Luo Zhaohui is China's ambassador to Canada.
Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi paid an official visit to Canada from June 1 to 2, 2016. This is the first visit to Canada by a Chinese foreign minister in seven years and also Wang Yi's debut in Canada in his capacity as foreign minister. His visit is of special significance and has yielded positive results.
First, the Chinese side expresses thanks to the Canadian side for its exceptional arrangements for Minister Wang Yi's visit. Minister Wang felt honoured to meet with Governor-General David Johnston and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. During the meetings, Wang conveyed the Chinese leaders' cordial greetings to the Canadian leaders and stressed the importance China attaches to developing relations with Canada. He also expressed China's willingness to host Canadian leaders in China.
The Canadian leaders shared with Wang Yi their views on how to strengthen Canada-China relations in the months and years to come. Both sides expressed high expectations for and confidence in joint efforts to focus on co-operation, properly manage disputes and differences, and bring about a new "golden era" of China-Canada relations. We appreciate the kind hospitality accorded to the Chinese minister by Global Affairs Canada and the Prime Minister's Office.
Second, Wang's visit marked the official launch of the China-Canada Foreign Ministers' Dialogue. Before his visit, there were over 40 mechanisms for dialogues and exchanges between the two countries. Unfortunately, the Foreign Ministers' Dialogue was not yet officially launched, though the two sides already agreed on the establishment of such dialogue in 2014. The primary purpose of Wang Yi's visit was to join his Canadian counterpart, Stéphane Dion, for the inaugural meeting of the Canada-China Foreign Ministers' Dialogue.
Both ministers spoke highly of the launch of the dialogue, which offers a new platform for strengthening and co-ordinating the bilateral exchanges and co-operation in various fields.
Wang Yi invited Stéphane Dion to visit China and co-host the second meeting of the Foreign Ministers' Dialogue at his convenience. Dion accepted the invitation with pleasure.
Third, Wang's visit was also to make preparation for the envisaged high-level visits from a political perspective. Both sides agreed in principle on the exchange of visits between Chinese and Canadian leaders before the end of this year. Wang's visit was also an occasion for the two sides to compare notes on the agenda and outcome of the leaders' visits. Wang expressed appreciation of Canada's positive attitude towards high-level visits and thanked the Canadian side for its recognition of China's economic growth and its desire for stronger co-operation with China. He also commended Canada's adherence to one-China policy.
In order to advance China-Canada relations, Wang also made a ten-point proposal, which includes among other things: strengthen exchange of high-level visits; expand bilateral trade; increase contacts and exchanges at the provincial and local levels; promote student mobility between the two countries; strengthen co-operation in the administration of justice, law enforcement, combating corruption, hunt-down and surrender of fugitive offenders, and recovery of illegal proceeds; and identify and develop landmark projects of mutually beneficial co-operation in areas of innovation, energy resources, energy efficiency, environmental protection, infrastructure development and connectivity, and modern agriculture.
Wang's proposal has been positively received by the Canadian side. China adopts a positive attitude toward the start of negotiation of a China-Canada free-trade agreement (FTA), which is believed to benefit both sides and contribute to win-win co-operation.
The Chinese side has never preconditioned the FTA negotiation on the opening of an energy pipeline and the lifting of restrictions on state-owned enterprises' investment in Canada, as has been absurdly claimed in some media reports.
Fourth, the two sides had an extensive exchange of views on co-operation on regional and international issues. They discussed UN reform, peacekeeping, Canada's candidature for non-permanent UN Security Council membership and other issues. They also touched on the issue of the South China Sea and the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
China appreciates Canada's reaffirmed vision to be back on the international stage and commends Canada's creative initiative on UN peacekeeping mission. China has contributed more peacekeepers than any other permanent member of the UN Security Council. China is the second-largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget. There is a lot more that China and Canada can work together in UN peacekeeping missions.
China welcomes a greater role of Canada in resolving regional issues. Canada supports China in hosting G20 Summit in Hangzhou. Both sides agree to strengthen co-operation under G20 framework and promote a more robust, balanced and sustainable global economic growth.
Fifth, the two sides had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on sensitive issues and those of mutual concern, which has enhanced mutual understanding and broadened consensus.
I would like to elaborate a little bit on human rights, which is very much in Canadian media reports lately:
1. Given the differences between China and Canada in history, culture and political system, it is only natural that the two countries may have different views on human rights. China faces such differences squarely and never sidesteps them. One should not be blinded by such differences and thus ignore the overall interests of co-operation.
It is with great expectations and sincere willingness for co-operation that minister Wang Yi has come to Canada and made a ten-point initiative for co-operation. I think this is what the media should focus on.
2. China has made tremendous and universally recognized achievements in the protection and promotion of human rights. I think any person without prejudice or "tinted glasses" would recognize such facts. Finger-pointing is not a proper way to treat guests. While reporters may enjoy freedom of press and ask China-related questions, the Chinese side on its part has freedom of opinion and expression.
3. That said, China has never claimed that its human rights are perfect. China is willing to communicate with Canada and other countries in this regard. Microphone diplomacy does no good to the control and solution of disputes or differences, it will only serve to mislead the public, adversely affect co-operation and harm both sides' interests. China stands for a constructive approach and mutual understanding of each other's concerns. It is important that the two sides work together to properly manage disputes and differences and focus on co-operation.
During his transit in Montreal, Foreign Minister Wang met with former prime minister Jean Chrétien, mayor of Montreal Denis Coderre and honorary chairman of Canada-China Business Council André Desmarais. Wang was encouraged by the strong desire and high expectations of Canadian business community and local governments for closer ties between the two countries.
This is Wang's first visit to Ottawa. In spite of busy schedule, he managed to find some time to go jogging in the morning along the Rideau River and in Gatineau Park. He has been deeply impressed by Canada's clean environment, beautiful cities and, more importantly, warm and friendly people.