Li's Ottawa trip also marked the formal launch of an annual dialogue mechanism to discuss security and the rule of law as well as economic and financial matters between the two heads of government that were established during Trudeau's China trip.
Zhang Junsai, the former Chinese Ambassador to Canada (2010-14), claimed that the mechanism is very helpful for maintaining a stable Sino-Canadian relationship. "Nothing can replace the importance of such face-to-face high-level meetings [in handling bilateral issues]," he said.
China has established similar dialogue platforms with many other nations, however, such an exchange with Canada has been rare over the past decade, noted Zhang. He added that the mechanism could spur a productive period in Sino-Canadian relations.
In an analytical article recently published on CRI (China Radio International) Online, Ma Yao, a researcher with Shanghai International Studies University, pointed out that the high-level dialogue mechanism symbolizes the deepening of mutual trust between China and Canada. Moreover, during Li's visit, the two leaders also agreed to launch exploratory discussions for a possible Canada-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
Zhang explained that whilst working as the ambassador in Canada, he tried to advance negotiations on the China-Canada FTA, however the previous administration's cool attitude—led by Conservative Stephen Harper—toward China impeded progress. Moreover, many Canadians remain suspicious of free trade, despite the demand from Canada's economic circle. "It's not easy to begin FTA negotiation immediately, but it can be done step by step," Zhang added.
A recent research report released by the Canada-China Business Council found that if China-Canada FTA negotiations were formally launched, Canadian investment abroad and exports will greatly increase and more skilled labor opportunities will be created.
When addressing the sixth Canada-China Business Forum in Montreal, Premier Li said, "Signing an FTA with Canada will be a challenge for China as it will have to bear greater pressure than the developed countries. However, China is willing to engage in FTA talks with Canada to press low-end domestic enterprises to move up the ladder."
There have also been talks of an extradition treaty between the states, as Canada is a common destination for fleeing Chinese officials who are guilty of corruption—one quarter of China's 100 most wanted corruption suspects are said to be on Canadian soil, according to The Paper, a Chinese media.
Thanks to the efforts of officials between the nations, the Canadian Government has agreed to consider such a treaty with China. Nevertheless, it cannot be completed at the drop of a hat, since the Canadian opposition party tends to disagree, citing the existence of the death penalty in China.
During his visit, the Chinese premier maintained that the death penalty is consistent with China's national conditions and the ruling on the death penalty has been very strict. He emphasized to apply humanitarian treatment to convicted criminals. He urged the two sides to work together to cope with the common problems of today's world and bring tangible benefits to the people.
Major Events in China-Canada Relations
-2016: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes an official visit to China and attends the G20 Summit in Hangzhou on August 30-September 6. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visits Canada on September 21-24.
-2014: Then Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visits China for the third time, attending the informal leaders' meetings and related activities of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
-2010: Then Chinese President Hu Jintao pays an official visit to Canada and attends the G20 Summit in Toronto.
-2009: Then Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visits China. During this visit, China announced Canada as one of the outbound tourism destinations for Chinese citizens.
-2005: In January, then Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin visits China. In September, former Chinese President Hu Jintao visits Canada. The two agreed to upgrade their relations to a strategic partnership.
-2003: Former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visits Canada, signing cooperation documents in fields including culture, transportation, and the quarantine of animals and plants.
-2001: Then Canadian Prime Minister Jean Christian visits China.
-1997: Then Chinese President Jiang Zemin visits Canada. The two countries agreed to establish a comprehensive cooperative partnership oriented toward the 21st century.
-1973: Then Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau visits China. This was the first time that a Canadian prime minister visited China since diplomatic relations were established.
-1970: China and Canada establish diplomatic relations.
Copyedited by Dominic James Madar
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