Thursday, April 9, 2009

Anything to get out of town

China is finally on PM's agenda

Toronto Star
Apr 9, 2009

The Chinese purchased 1 million cars last month, far more than recession-stunned Americans bought. They're a lot more bullish about the future than the rest of the world, polls show. The World Bank calls China's $4 trillion-plus economy "a bright spot" amid global gloom, poised for an early rebound later this year.

And one of the most-read articles in the People's Daily newspaper this week announced that 320,000 Chinese are now millionaires, many of them multi-millionaires.

So Prime Minister Stephen Harper has good reason to plan a long-overdue first visit to China next fall, on the heels of the Nov. 14-15 Asia Pacific leaders summit in Singapore. Business prospects are better in China than almost anywhere else. And the timing is politically right. Next year Canada and China mark 40 years of diplomatic relations.

Trade Minister Stockwell Day heads off next Tuesday to smoothe the way by meeting Chinese ministers, Communist officials and local notables, and to open new trade offices.

This flurry of high-level interest is a welcome change.

Canadian companies "enjoy a great reputation in China," in the words of Chinese ambassador Lan Lijun. Yet in his three years-plus in office, Harper has largely neglected China, even as our two-way trade has grown to $53 billion.

While Harper has met President Hu Jintao at various summits, and his ministers have made 14 visits, relations have been rocky. Harper wasn't at the Beijing Olympics and hasn't managed to balance Canada's concern for China's human rights record (think Tibet) with the need to enhance business contacts with what may soon be the world's second-largest economy. One hopes that Harper will now get the balance right, assuming that he is still PM next fall.

Harper should also consider reviving the Team Canada concept initiated by former prime minister Jean Chr├ętien, who led the premiers and high-powered business leaders to China and other countries to cut multi-billion-dollar deals. In China, the state controls much of the economy. Visiting foreign political leaders can open doors for business people that might otherwise stay closed.

With 1.4 million citizens of Chinese heritage, Canada should have a tremendous advantage in dealing with China. Recognizing that, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, Quebec Premier Jean Charest and Toronto Mayor David Miller have all visited China in recent times. Belatedly, Harper is following suit, hoping to set the stage for tripling our trade in the next decade. He has some catching up to do.


Anonymous said...

Typical Harper ...

WesternGrit said...

He should go with Jason Kenney - then they can both end up in a Chinese jail!

What kind of negotiations would result from this? Does Harper think the Chinese are stupid? After disrespecting and verbally assaulting China for years (even while in Opposition), the Conservatives will be laughed at in China.

That's what happens when your politicians aren't "diplomats", but rather "rabble-rousers".

Anonymous said...

That is a great picture of Harper..he looks 6 month pregnant.
He should be embarrassed to show hi face after what he called China.

Cari said...

Anon...He looks like I did when I was 8 months along.
Harper may not have to go.

Richard the Vitriolic said...

So the Chinese, who the Con Fascist Goofs love to bash, are now going to give our buffoon a big photo op, for all the dimwits back here in Canada. I watched media coverage of the G20 and Harpass was nowhere to be seen, at least in the American media. Wait, wasn’t that Dear Leader Steve parked down at the end of the row near Botswana in the opening ceremony photograph? For the one country that our media keeps touting as doing so well during this economic meltdown, you’d think Dear Leader Steve could have got himself placed closer to Obama. But then he’s got nothing to say that Obama wants to hear. Who wants to listen to a Fascist Goof?