Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with Chinese President Hu Jintao on the final day of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit on Sunday, after witnessing the signing of a wide-ranging investment pact.
The two leaders watched as Ed Fast, Canada's minister of international trade, and Chen Deming, China's minister of commerce, signed the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, which was announced during Harper's visit to China in February.
"Our government is committed to creating the right conditions for Canadian businesses to compete globally," said Harper. "This agreement with China — the world's second largest economy — will provide stronger protection for Canadians investing in China, and create jobs and economic growth in Canada."
The Sunday morning meeting is considered the centrepiece of the prime minister's trip to the APEC summit in Russia because of his government's focus on expanding trade with the Asian economic giant.
"Mr. prime minister, we attach great importance to the China-Canada relationship," said Hu, as the two leaders took up seats opposite a long table, flanked by their officials.
"I look forward today to discussing with you a range of issues and finding ways to further strengthen our relationship," Harper replied.
The meeting also comes at a key time because Industry Canada's ongoing review of the China National Offshore Oil Co.'s $15.1-billion deal to buy Calgary-based Nexen Inc.
China has already invested heavily in Canada's natural resources sector, but the Nexen bid has sparked concern because CNOOC is a state-owned company, not a private company.
Prior to arriving at the summit, Harper said the onus is on China to show that its state-run enterprises can be trusted to play by the same rules that apply in Canada.
Harper's other big meeting at the summit came Saturday with his host, Russian President Vladimir Putin, when the two men essentially agreed to disagree on the crisis in Syria.
The summit is being held in the Pacific port city of Vladivostok.
Harper told a business audience in Vancouver that Canada can conduct its relations with China respectfully, "but (is) not afraid to further our own interests and to raise our own concerns on things like human rights." He added that Canada has "important things that the Chinese want."
Harper said he wants to deepen economic relations with China but that relationship must be a two-way street, or "win-win to use the Chinese expression."