China and Canada made significant progress during Prime Minister Stephen Harper's visit to Beijing in easing the flow of goods and people between the two countries.
Most significant, for many Canadians, will be the announcement that Canada has been granted, after years of negotiation, Approved Destination Status by the Chinese government.
The designation makes it possible for Chinese travel agents to organize group tours to Canada. According to Canadian government data, Chinese tourists stay longer (on average, 28 nights) and spend more (on average, better than $1,600 a visit) than those from any other country. With 1.3 million Chinese-Canadian friends and relatives to visit, the new designation promises to inject $100-million a year into Canada's tourism industry, with considerable growth potential.
There were also agreements on mineral exports and cultural exchanges. Perhaps most promising, if negotiations bear fruit, both sides agreed "to expedite negotiations of a China-Canada Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement." Such an agreement could provide greater assurance for Canadian companies interested in investing in the Chinese market.
Environmentalists, however, will not be cheered by the Memorandum of Understanding on Climate Change. Both sides promised to contribute to the fight against global warming "through mitigation and adaptation." Those who fear the consequences of global warming do not want nations to invest resources in adapting to its effect, but prefer that nations work to prevent as much as possible any further warming at all.