On Friday, China’s new ambassador to Canada arrives in Ottawa. Luo Zhaohui spoke with The Globe and Mail’s Nathan VanderKlippe this week. Read China decries Canada’s ‘negative’ investment rules
Here are five key points from the interview:
'We want to maintain this momentum'
The relationship is getting better, but it’s not there yet. “We are in a very good momentum, we want to maintain this momentum with political and economic co-operation – both are in a very positive way, and are on the right track.” But, “you want me to mention some problems? If we can see some problems, I think we should do more for the political engagement, for the mutual trust, and also the economic co-operation, especially the trade and energy co-operation. Two-way trade right now is almost $60-billion (U.S.), but that’s not enough.”
'New policy is not positive'
China is not a big fan of Canada’s new foreign investment rules, and the new hurdles Ottawa erected for state-owned firms eager to buy up Alberta’s crown energy jewels. “Some media, some officials from your side, the economic circle from my side, the state-owned companies – they both think that that new policy is not positive.” Canada is, of course, sovereign and can write the rules it chooses. But China wants the old, laxer policy back. “We will wish that if that policy is negative, it must have some kind of changes.”
'We really wish to have a free trade agreement'
China really, really wants to break down trade barriers with Canada. First, it wants Canada to ratify the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, which was signed in 2012 but has languished since. “We need your side, your government, to try your best to ratify this agreement.” And China wants to go a giant step further. It’s already talking free trade with neighbours such as India, Australia and South Korea. “And we really wish to have a free trade agreement with Canada.” It’s more than that: China wants Canada to lift its eyes from the U.S. and look instead to the “Asia Pacific area. Economic policy should also be more positive toward this area.”
'We will buy more'
China is ready to buy more of what Canada has to sell. On blueberries: “that’s no problem.” On beef: “we can buy more agricultural production from your side. We import a lot of beef. … So if the price in your country is reasonable, why not?” On airplanes: “last year China decided to buy some 15 C-Series Bombardier aircraft. We will buy more.” On commodities: “Right now in China we are talking about the maritime silk route, and … this can also be extended to Canada. In future days, we can talk about a maritime energy corridor.”
'The new leaders ... are quite open and flexible'
China’s leadership is ready to brave the protesters and fly to Ottawa. “I am quite optimistic for Chinese leadership to visit Canada.” That means a willingness to face down the Falun Gong signs. “That’s just a reality. We know that every time Chinese leaders have paid a state visit, your government has tried your best to arrange the visit. And you have your own legal system, that’s also the reality. And Chinese leaders right now, the new leaders, as before are quite open and flexible.”