Li targets win-win results for relations

Updated: 2016-09-26 13:12

By AMY HE and ZHAO HUANXIN in Montreal

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Li targets win-win results for relations

Premier Li Keqiang and his wife Cheng Hong with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau before the start of a dinner at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, on Thursday. (Photo/Agencies)

Premier Li Keqiang seemed to have scored big on his visit to the Montréal Canadiens hockey team on Friday morning. He and his host Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau each received a team jersey and even got to play a bit at the Bell Centre.

Li said that when he noticed a sign at the sports center that read: "No excuses. Be a winner”, he promptly told Trudeau, "We have no excuses; China and Canada must have win-win cooperation.”

At noon, he told an audience at the Sixth China Canada Business Forum, sponsored by the Canada China Business Council, that he believed Beijing and Ottawa could achieve a win-win outcome.

Li said he hoped the Canadians win championships and he wished for "a new golden decade" between the two countries.

"There is intensified political trust between our governments, and that is one of the reasons the two countries can reach a win-win goal,” Li said.

In less than a month, the heads of government of the two nations have visited each other’s country and brought about scores of cooperative agreements.

This was rare in the history of relations between the two countries and indicated the relationship has been warming quickly, Li said.

The premier was on the third day of his visit to Canada, arriving from Ottawa after inaugurating an annual meeting arrangement between heads of government of the two countries, and witnessing with Trudeau the signing of 14 cooperation documents.

During Trudeau’s visit to China from August 30 to Sept 6, more than 50 deals worth $1.2 billion were announced or signed in Shanghai and an additional 10 were announced in Hong Kong.

Li targets win-win results for relations
Premier Li Keqiang speaks at the China Canada Business Forum. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Another reason why China and Canada have win-win potential is that their economies are highly complementary, Li said.

"The two-way trade between China and Canada was just over $50 billion last year, which didn’t match the status of our two major economies,” Li said. "There is tremendous room and potential to be tapped.”

In the coming decade, trade between the two nations will not only double last year’s level, but more than double it, Li said.

The consensus the two sides reached on Thursday to launch exploratory talks on a possible free-trade agreement (FTA) will also contribute to win-win results.

Li said the FTA talks with Canada is a challenge to China. "It means greater pressure for the developing [country] — China is still in the medium-low end of the production chain while Canada is in the higher end of the industrial chain,” Li said.

But in order to promote the growth of China-Canada relations and tap into the potential of our cooperation, "we stand ready to start feasibility studies on a free trade agreement between China and Canada”.

Again the premier used ice hockey to make a point. The competition that ensues in the wake of an FTA, Li said, is just like a game of hockey in the rink.

Trudeau said at the forum that the discussions between the two countries have recently centered on the idea that the economic potential between them is vast.

"We’d be doing a great disservice to our peoples if we didn’t tap into it,” he said.

Trudeau said that although Canada’s relationship with China had been "unfocused [and] inconsistent" in the past decade, his government is committed to changing that, building on work done by former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

"We know that the best way to (renew the relationship) is to stay engaged in open, honest dialogue about things that matter and I’m so pleased the Premier was able to come to Canada so soon after our initial meeting.

"I believe in making good on our promises and the promise to maintain communications for the benefit of both of our peoples is of paramount importance,” Trudeau said.

"Canada needs to take advantage of middle-class growth in China,” said Sarah Kutulakos, executive director of the Canada China Business Council.

"It’s a successful relationship between the two countries and I’m looking forward to new relationships with the free trade agreement.”

Na Li contributes to the story.