China expected to expand oil cooperation with Canada

Updated: 2014-07-31 06:56

By Zhao Shengnan and Zhang Yunbi (China Daily USA)

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Vice-President Li Yuanchao said Beijing is ready to boost ties and cooperation with Ottawa following the announcement that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will visit China in November.

China has always adopted a strategic and long-term view on its relations with Canada, Li said in Beijing on Wednesday.

Li stressed that China is ready to work more closely with the North American country at a meeting at the Great Hall of the People with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird. Baird was on the last day of his three-nation trip to Asia.

China expected to expand oil cooperation with Canada

Vice-President Li Yuanchao meets with visiting Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird in Beijing on Wednesday. Feng Yongbin / China Daily

Baird said Canada is ready to expand cooperation with China in various fields, including energy, resources, finance, insurance and agriculture.

The Canadian government attaches great importance to developing relations with China, he added.

During his upcoming trip to Beijing, Harper is expected to attend a leaders meeting of APEC economies to be held in Beijing.

Relations between China and Canada have improved significantly since Harper's first trip to China in 2009. The prime minister visited China in February 2012.

Harper's visit will be his first to China since his government approved a $15.1 billion bid by China National Offshore Oil Corp, a major State-owned oil company, for Nexen Inc, a Canadian oil and gas company, in December 2012.

Gong Yan, head of the Canadian Studies Center at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said energy cooperation will be a key issue during Harper's visit.

"Ottawa wants to diversify its oil sales by turning to energy-hungry Asia, especially China," Gong said.

Canada has the world's third-largest oil reserves and the United States accounts for a major share of its oil exports.

"The problem is, although Canada has frequently expressed its wish to cooperate with China, obstacles remain when it comes to China's State-owned companies," Gong said.

In December 2012, at the time of CNOOC's successful bid, the Harper administration announced new guidelines for evaluating proposed takeovers of Canadian companies by China's State-owned enterprises.

Wang said on Tuesday that China supports businesses in both countries to cooperate in oil and gas development as well as trade and pipeline construction in order to form a "long-term, stable partnership" in energy and resources.

Cooperation in the education sector will also be a key topic of discussion during Harper's visit as an increasing number of Chinese students choose to study in Canada, Gong said.

China is Canada's leading source of international students; more than 87,000 Chinese students are currently studying there.

China is also Canada's second-largest trading partner, with two-way trade totaling $55 billion in 2013. Chinese investment in Canada totaled roughly $50 billion last year, according to Chinese ambassador to Canada Luo Zhaohui.

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(China Daily USA 07/31/2014 page4)