For the first time, since Stephen Harper became Prime Minister of Canada, he visited China with his wife, Laureen Harper on a 5-day scheduled official visit.
Premier Wen Jiao Bao gently chided the Prime Minister for taking so long to come and visit China. It has been five years since any official visits from Canada to China. “Five years is too long a time for China-Canada relations and that’s why there are comments in the media that your visit is one that should have taken place earlier,” Wen said. PM Harper was quick to retort that it has been also five years since there was any official visit from China to Canada.
Our Prime Minister has been giving China the cold shoulder due to China’s human rights violation. China did not like Canada having relations with the Dalai Lama, to the extent of the University of Calgary granting an honorary degree to the Dalai Lama.
Regardless of the past, both countries agreed that there should be more regular visits between the two countries, especially since China is Canada’s third largest export partner.
(1) China agreed to open a consulate in Montreal, Canada.
(2) China has agreed to confer on Canada the status of “approved tourist destination”. There are more than 134 approved tourist destinations for China, and Canada has been fighting for this status for more than 10 years.
This announcement is expected to bring more than $100 million in revenues to Canada and is very timely for the Winter Olympics 2010 in Vancouver.