Canada's China Policy: Business, Reform and Frank Discussion

By Chretien, Jean | Canadian Speeches, December 1998 | Go to article overview

Canada's China Policy: Business, Reform and Frank Discussion


Chretien, Jean, Canadian Speeches


JEAN CHRETIEN

Prime Minister

Three features of Canada's policy in relations with China are stressed by the prime minister: continued development of strong economic relations, support for Chinese reforms, and frank disucussions of differences. Speech to the annual general meeting of the Canada-China Business Council, Beijing, China, November 20, 1998.

Your Excellency, Premier Zhu Rongji, distinguished ministers and guests.

Mr. Premier, we are honored by your presence. Everyone here tonight is aware of the crucial responsibilities you have taken on in guiding the future of China. The challenges confronting your people are enormous. We admire your vision. And your clear determination to meet them squarely lives up to your well-earned reputation for action and results.

On behalf of the people of Canada, we wish you and your colleagues the greatest success in your work. For we recognize that your success is vital. Not only for the Chinese people but for the wider Asia Pacific community and, indeed, for the whole world.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the fifth CCBC annual general meeting that I have had the pleasure of addressing. And I want you to know that I plan to keep coming back for a long time. This is also the 20th anniversary of the Council. A fitting occasion, I think, to celebrate your achievements.

It is no accident that the Council was founded in 1978. It was that very year that China embarked on the great adventure of opening and reform. The Council has become a bridge between Chinese and Canadian corporations. And a great facilitator of government exchanges. Some 350 Canadian firms now have offices or investments in China. Many of them are of small and medium size. And the numbers continue to grow.

The theme of this meeting is "Opportunity in Times of Change." But change is not always pleasant or easy. Real opportunities often challenge our courage and our imagination. And we cannot deny that these are difficult times for many of our partners in the Asia Pacific.

Fortunately, at this time, China has escaped the worst. In fact, China has taken a leading role in calming the contagion, especially in her strong commitment to a stable currency.

This is critical for all of us.

Indeed, the leadership of China in these difficult and challenging times has driven home the fact that she is a truly global player. With global potential. And immense global responsibilities. In part, her transformation is being driven by extraordinary success as a producer of goods for the world. In part, it is a result of the same rapid advances in technology that are transforming all nations.

But mostly it is the result of the hard work and the hopes of the Chinese people themselves. Twenty years ago, they threw open their doors to new ideas, new institutions and new friendships. But even two decades later, the task for China in fully harnessing her enormous potential is huge. Along the way difficulties are and will be inevitable.

Canada has strongly supported the accession of China to the World Trade Organization. So we are naturally concerned by reports of measures that restrict market access.

We believe that the free and open expression of opposing views is not a threat to anyone or any nation. Indeed, our openness to new ideas has been essential to Canada's becoming the modern, prosperous nation it is today. In a spirit of friendship and understanding, we will continue to share our experiences and engage constructively with China.

A spirit that finds expression both in an eagerness to develop our economic relationship, and an abiding willingness to work in co-operation on the issues that separate us.

In this year alone, ten ministers of our government have visited China, to engage in meetings at the highest levels on issues of current and long-term importance to our two countries. Throughout, our consistent messages to our Chinese friends has been that Canada will stand by China as it continues its reforms. …

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