Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, was in talks with Chinese president Xi Jinping in Beijing Sunday. The visit generated around $2.5 billion in business deals and allows Harper to express his concerns about human rights.
China and Canada agreed to create a $32 billion currency swap line, which will be effective for three years.
Mr. Harper said:
“I am not going to enumerate them all but I will just say you can rest assured that every single item that is important in the area of consular issues, human rights, governance, the rights of minorities – I have raised every single one of those”
One particular case that was addressed was that of Kevin and Julia Garratt, a Canadian couple detained by Chinese authorities because of spying allegations. The two were taken into custody only days after the Canada blamed China for hacking into federal computers. The Canadian government has been working to address the issue.
Mr. Harper pointed out that this “particular case is of particular concern to Canadians,” adding “that is why I raised it.”
The prime minister will be appearing at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Beijing Monday before flying home to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies in Ottawa.
Mr. Harper said that he has been able to improve the Canadian relationship with China on his own terms, despite heavy criticism that he is too moralistic about citing concerns with a global power whose economic size is much larger than Canada’s.
Mr. Harper said:
“ You may remember there was some controversy in the early days of this government when we said when we conducted relationships with China or any other country there were really three elements to that – there were not just economic interests, there were also fundamental human values, Canadian values and also our security interests,”
“In all of those things, we insist that all of those things be on the table in this and any other relationship and that is the basis on which we have relationships,”
“I have to tell you that the Chinese leadership did not raise with me at any point the issue of Canadian investment rules,”
He said that China has no reason to complain, given how restrictive China has been for Canadian firms.
“It would be difficult for [Beijing] to do so given that Canada’s investment climate is so much freer than the investment climate here,” the prime minister said.
“According to our statistics, the Chinese have about five times the level of investment in Canada that we have in China,”
“So if anything it’s on the other side that this issue really has to be addressed.”