Updated: 2012-02-08 14:24
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrived in Beijing late on Tuesday for a five-day visit to China. He has come at an important moment when both sides feel an increasing need to bring bilateral ties to a new level.
This is Harper's first visit to China after his re-election in May 2011 and his second as prime minister. The fact that he is accompanied by five ministers, six members of parliament and 40 business executives indicates his government is looking to garner lucrative business deals with China.
As long as both sides can base their cooperation on equality and reciprocity, there is a huge potential for China and Canada to tap the potential in such fields as trade, natural resources, science and technology, finance, culture and tourism.
Since Harper's first China visit in December 2009, bilateral cooperation and exchanges have witnessed vigorous development. Bilateral trade surged 60 percent in the last two years, and hit a record high of almost $50 billion in 2011. Official statistics from Canada show China is Canada's second largest trading partner after the United States, and China invested a total of C$14.1 billion ($14.2 billion) in Canada in 2010, up from C$12.9 billion in 2009 and C$5.7 billion in 2008.
With China's approval of Canada as a "preferred tourism destination" in 2010, the number of Chinese tourists to Canada has increased by over 20 percent, helping Canada's tourism industry shake off the adverse effects of the global financial crisis.
As a sign of enhanced political mutual trust, high-level exchange visits have also become more frequent, highlighted by President Hu Jintao's state visit to Canada in June 2010, when leaders of the two nations decided to further promote the China-Canada strategic partnership in an all-round way.
Differences aside, there is no conflict of fundamental interests between China and Canada. The growth in Sino-Canadian ties has brought concrete benefits to both nations and at the same time promoted peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and the whole world.
For the smooth and healthy development of bilateral ties, both sides should treat each other with respect, accommodate each other's core interests and major concerns, and appropriately handle sensitive issues. It is hoped the two countries can make their relationship a model for relations between countries of different social systems and modes of development.
Aside from bilateral ties, pressing international issues are also expected to figure in Harper's talks with Chinese leaders. A mutual exchange of views and mutual understanding of each other's stance in this regard will help cement their cooperation on the world stage.