Canada-China partnership ready for the 'next level'

Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke to a business audience in Guangzhou, China Friday, touting growing trade and cultural ties between the two countries. Read the full text of the speech.

Harper on trade and rights

10 years ago
Duration 20:50
Prime Minister Stephen Harper addresses a business audience in Guangzhou, China

Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave a speech before a business audience in Guangzhou, China Friday, touting trade and cultural ties between the two countries and addressing the importance of "Canadian values" such as human rights within the  growing relationship between the two countries. Here is the prepared text of that speech, in English and French (in italics):

Bonsoir, Mesdames et messieurs. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you Governor Zhu for your greetings. And thank you Ed [Fast, minister of international trade] for your warm words.

Governor Zhu, Lieutenant Governor Lee and Mrs. Lee, Ambassador Zhang, Ambassador Mulroney, colleagues from the Parliament of Canada, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

First, I’d like to thank our friends here at the Canada-China Business Council, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of Shanghai and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of Hong Kong, for partnering with the Government of Canada for this superb event.

It's a great honour to speak before such a group as this: And the organisers deserve our hearty congratulations!

I'm very pleased to be here in historic Guangzhou, one of China’s largest cities … A place with a rich history of thousands of years of civilization …

Today, blessed by a dynamic and energetic population, whose industry reaches literally around the world.

En fait, toute la province du Guangdong revêt une importance toute particulière pour le Canada. Comme vous êtes nombreux à le savoir, un grand nombre de citoyens canadiens ont des liens familiaux avec cette région. 

In fact, no part of China has provided more of its sons and daughters as immigrants to Canada than the Guangdong province. Canada has been enormously blessed by the energy and entrepreneurial spirit of people who came from this area …and on their behalf, I am proud to bring you greetings.

Let me just introduce my friends and Cabinet colleagues, ministers John Baird, Ed Fast, Gerry Ritz, Joe Oliver, and Alice Wong. Perhaps I should say "re-introduce," because all of them have visited your country before, some more than once.

Indeed, minister Wong, like Lieutenant-Governor Lee, hails from Hong Kong, another great Chinese city, from which many people come to Canada, and achieve great things. And I would be remiss not to give a special greeting to our Master of Ceremonies, Canada’s very own Mark Rowswell, or as you know him, Dashan!

Dashan is a remarkable goodwill ambassador between Canada and China …And I’m grateful to him for shortening his vacation to spend a few days with us … and I assure you he won't be eating bamboo for the next decade.

'[Canada has] abundant supplies of virtually every form of energy. We want to sell our energy to people who want to buy our energy. It's that simple'—Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Also on a return trip is my wife, Laureen! (who I really shouldn't forget to mention!). Laureen and I visited Beijing and Shanghai slightly more than two years ago.

Tout comme en deux-milles-neuf, nous avons été reçus avec les plus grands égards.

On both of are trips to China, you have indeed been gracious hosts. Earlier today, we spent some time with Party Secretary Wong.

It was a cordial and [constructive] conversation …And it will be helpful in our objective of broadening the strategic economic partnership that Canada and China share.

Depuis notre dernière visite, des progrès considérables ont été accomplis. We have made this progress because, despite our enormous differences, we share some important similarities.

We are both countries looking forward, with the conviction that the new century will be our century. We are both ambitious, outwardly focussed, trade-oriented ... eager to strengthen our partnership …in fact, to take that partnership to the next level …

For Canada has been built on trade. And now, more than ever before, Canadians are looking to profoundly diversify our trade relationships and to deepen our cooperation here, and right across this region. I shall return to this theme later.

First, however, I should like to talk about the results of work we have done in recent years. During my 2009 visit, Canada and China signed agreements dealing with several areas, including tourism cultural exchanges, climate change, energy conservation, green technologies.

And of particular importance, education…

Après nos engagements de deux-milles-neuf, il y a eu une augmentation remarquable du nombre d’étudiants chinois au Canada. 

Following our 2009 agreements, there has been a remarkable increase in the number of Chinese students studying in Canada. There is no better place in the world to study than Canada. That's why more than 60,000 Chinese students now attend Canada’s world-class colleges and universities, a 35 per cent increase in four years …and the number is growing. Another area where we’ve moved forward quickly since 2009 is tourism.

This was given a special impetus during my last visit when China gave Canada approved Destination Status. Il y a eu une croissance formidable des voyages.

Du mois de janvier au mois d’octobre 2011, le Canada a accueilli plus de deux cents milles visiteurs provenant de Chine … soit une augmentation de presque 25 pour cent en l’espace d’un an seulement. 

There has since been tremendous growth in travel. From January to October of 2011, Canada received more than 200,000 visitors from China, an increase of almost 25 per cent in one year alone. And we look forward to welcoming even more Chinese visitors in the years to come. But, we haven’t stopped there.

On Wednesday, we witnessed the signing of several government-to-government agreements. They dealt with air transportation, with agriculture, with double taxation. We renewed an earlier Memorandum of Understanding on energy cooperation, and we have agreed to jointly fund science and technology research into human vaccines and clean transportation.

Et jeudi, nous avons assisté à la signature d’un grand nombre de contrats commerciaux d’une valeur de près de trois milliards de dollars.

And on Thursday, we witnessed the signing of a large number of business contracts, worth nearly three billion dollars. Many very large Canadian companies are keenly interested in China, and in Gwang-joe especially.

For example, Scotiabank, one of Canada’s largest banks, has had a growing presence in Asia for years.

Now, Scotiabank has just entered into a partnership in the Bank of Guangzhou.

Bombardier est une autre entreprise canadienne très connue.

Bombardier a fourni des voitures et des systèmes de train léger pour les métros de Guangzhou et de Shen-Jen. I could go on …

For there are other major Canadian companies active in southern China …grain handler Viterra in Gwang-See province …and Calgary’s Husky Oil partnering with China National Offshore Oil Corporation, using its world-class expertise to explore and exploit deep-water oil and gas deposits in the South China Sea.

In other words, the potential of partnerships in China, and especially here in Guangdong Province, is very much on our radar.

So, ladies and gentlemen what does it mean, when we say we want to take the Canada-China strategic economic partnership to the next level? It means we recognize the great potential synergies of our economies and we seek to work together to secure the advantages they offer.

Et mes amis, laissez-moi vous rappeler les forces que le Canada a à offrir dans ce partenariat stratégique à titre de grande économie développée, stable et sécuritaire.

Canada's strengths as a partner are considerable.

As a developed economy Canada is technologically sophisticated … and in this era of global economic crisis, has demonstrated far stronger fundamentals than most of its peers.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivers a speech in Guangzhou, China, Friday, Feb. 10, 2012. (Kin Cheung/Associated Press)

For example, for the fourth year in a row, the World Economic Forum, says Canada’s banks are the soundest in the world. Among the G-7 countries, Canada maintains the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment and the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio by far. No wonder Forbes magazine ranks Canada as the best place on the planet for businesses to grow and create jobs.

No surprise that the OECD and the IMF predict our economy will again be among the leaders of the industrialized world over the next two years.

Et, bien sûr, le Canada regorge d’abondantes ressources naturelles…

Those natural resources are critical things that China needs, and will continue to need, to power the kind of industrial growth that you are witnessing…

Minerals, food, lumber, advanced expertise in a wide spectrum of activities …

And, of course, Canada has energy.

Let’s just talk about that for a moment.

Canada is not just a great trading nation. We are an emerging energy superpower.

Nous sommes une super-puissance énergétique en émergence.

Nous avons d’abondantes réserves de pratiquement toutes les formes d’énergie. Et vous savez, nous voulons vendre notre énergie aux gens qui veulent acheter notre énergie.

C’est aussi simple que ça.

Let me repeat that.

We have abundant supplies of virtually every form of energy.

And you know, we want to sell our energy to people who want to buy our energy. It's that simple.

Currently, 99 per cent  of Canada’s energy exports go to one country — the United States.

Il est de plus en plus clair qu'il est dans l'intérêt national du Canada de diversifier nos marchés de l'énergie.

C'est pourquoi, notre gouvernement est déterminé à veiller à ce que le Canada dispose de l’'nfrastructure nécessaire pour acheminer ses ressources énergétiques vers ces marchés diversifiés.

And it is increasingly clear that Canada’s commercial interests are best served through diversification of our energy markets.

To this end, our government is committed to ensuring that Canada has the infrastructure necessary to move our energy resources to those diversified markets.

Yes, we will continue to develop these resources in an environmentally responsible manner.

But so too will we uphold our responsibility to put the interests of Canadians ahead of foreign money and influence that seek to obstruct development in Canada in favour of energy imported from other, less stable parts of the world.

So friends, when it comes to energy resources, taking things to the next level means recognizing we are natural trading partners, and that we should engage more deeply.

'China has shown the world how to make a poor people rich, through frugality and diligence, and of course, by embracing market economics'

Nous avons aussi annoncé un accord, dans le prolongement de notre coopération de longue date dans le domaine nucléaire, afin d’accroître l’exportation de l'uranium canadien vers la Chine.

We've also announced on this trip an agreement building on our long-standing nuclear cooperation, to increase the export of Canadian uranium to China.

But taking things "to the next level" means more than just increasing energy sales.

Cette semaine, j'ai été véritablement ravi d’annoncer avec le Premier ministre Wen la conclusion des négociations d'un Accord de protection et de promotion de l'investissement étranger entre nos deux pays..

This week, I was truly delighted to announce with Premier Wen the conclusion of negotiations on a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement between our two countries.

This Agreement will provide greater predictability and protection for Chinese and Canadian investors, across a wide range of enterprise.

It will allow them to do business with confidence. It will lead to more investment.

Ultimately, that will lead to more jobs and growth for Canadians.

That's why Canadian governments have sought such an agreement for almost 20 years.

It is therefore an historic step forward in our economic partnership.

Et nous allons immédiatement commencer à mettre à profit cette réalisation en menant des discussions en vue d'approfondir notre relation commerciale et économique.

We have committed to move to the next step, by soon concluding our Joint Economic Complementarities Study …And, from this, to engage in discussions on further deepening our trade and economic relationship.

In other words, on this visit, we have seen not just great progress but also the beginning of more to come.

All that is, of course, at the high and lofty level of our hard-working and dedicated officials.

What does it mean to people on the street, in China and in Canada?

It means, simply, opportunity …Opportunity that leads to growth — and to jobs.

That is why Canada, under our government, has built a network of 11 trade offices in the People’s Republic of China.

It is why you have observed, the accelerating pace of high-level exchanges.

And it is why, consistent with our strategic partnership we are here today.

Are there obstacles? Of course, there are.

Le Canada ne dissocie jamais notre relation commerciale de ses valeurs nationales fondamentales.

Les Canadiens comprennent que nous avons acquis nos richesses et notre prospérité, largement partagées, …non seulement en raison de l’abondance de nos ressources et de notre travail acharné, …mais par notre engagement à l'égard de la liberté, de la démocratie, de la primauté du droit.

Et des droits de la personne pour tout le monde.

Canada does not — and cannot — disconnect our trading relationship from fundamental national values.

Canadians understand that our own wealth and prosperity have come about, and are broadly shared …Not just because of abundant resources and hard work …But because of our commitment to freedom, democracy, the rule of law and human rights for everyone.

Canadians believe, and have always believed, that the kind of mutually beneficial economic relationship we seek …is also compatible with a good and frank dialogue on fundamental principles such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of belief and worship.

And they demand that their government — and their businesses — uphold these national characteristics in all our dealings.

Les Canadiens exigent aussi que leur gouvernement se comporte en citoyen mondial responsable dans sa manière d'affronter les difficultés liées à la paix et à la sécurité dans le monde.

Chaque fois que nous en avons l’occasion, nous pressons les autres gouvernements, y compris les acteurs de la scène mondiale, comme la Chine, de faire de même.

Canadians also demand that their government be a responsible global citizen in dealing with peace and security challenges that confront the world … And, wherever we can, urge other governments, including global actors like China, to do the same.

In saying these things, let me be clear …that I do not claim to fully understand the unique kinds of challenges that a huge, emerging, spectacularly expanding economy, such as this one, faces.

Today, the drive in from the airport is a powerful picture of how millions of people are bettering their lives through industry and investment.

Without a doubt, this is its own kind of liberation.

Nor do I ignore the undeniable differences of Chinese culture and history. However, as Canadians our history has taught us that economic, social and political development are, over time, inseparable.

And it is our national creed that people of all cultures can be Canadian, enjoying and participating in all aspects of our democratic society … as, indeed, Canadians of Chinese origin, do today.

Therefore, in relations between China and Canada, you should expect us to continue to raise issues of fundamental freedoms and human rights …and to be a vocal advocate for these, just as we will be an effective partner in our growing and mutually beneficial economic relationship.

Ladies and gentlemen, in 2010, we had the pleasure of welcoming President Hu, on his official visit to Canada.

In the past two days, we had the opportunity to renew our acquaintance, as well as to talk with Premier Wen, Chairman Wu, and Vice Premier Lee.

I am encouraged by our discussions … encouraged that in this time of both great opportunity and risk in the global economy …our two great countries can cooperate for the mutual benefit of our peoples.

Some will observe that, despite all which has been accomplished, much work remains to be done if we are to maximize the real potential of this relationship.

That is true.

And it is why we are here.

But I will also say this:

L'avenir de notre relation est prometteur.

The future of our relationship is laden with promise.

China has shown the world how to make a poor people rich, through frugality and diligence, and of course, by embracing market economics.

This message is validated by performance …By a 30-year average of 10 per cent per annum growth. By lifting over half a billion people out of poverty.

And by becoming an economic power of the first rank …likely to soon return to what it has been for most of recorded history …the largest economy in the world.

The world is a better place for a China that favours free trade over protectionism …for a China that plays the constructive role it did at last year’s G-20, for a China whose people value social and political progress as much as its economic growth.

To these things we look forward with hope and optimism and in growing friendship.

Ladies and gentlemen you have been generous with your time and attention.

Laureen and I are also, of course, grateful for your warm hospitality.

Xie xie.

Merci beaucoup.