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FM has talks with Canadian counterpart

By MO JINGXI | China Daily | Updated: 2024-01-13 07:00
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China and Canada on Thursday stressed in their latest high-level engagement the importance of keeping communication channels open despite challenges, in order to bring bilateral ties back on the right track.

In a phone conversation on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Canadian counterpart Melanie Joly that China hopes the Canadian side will interpret China's domestic and foreign policies in an objective, rational and correct way, and the two countries should not let their differences dominate bilateral relations. The two last met on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers' meeting in Bali, Indonesia in 2022.

Following Canada's arbitrary detention of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's then chief financial officer, in 2018, Sino-Canadian relations have nose-dived and remained strained last year, underscored by Ottawa's groundless allegations of Beijing's so-called "election interference".

The fundamental reason that China-Canada relations have hit a low point in recent years is because there has been a serious deviation in Canada's perception of China, Wang said.

Without any historical row or realistic conflict of interests, Beijing and Ottawa share many common interests and enjoy complementary advantages, he said.

Wang also said that China and Canada, both as promoters and beneficiaries of free trade, should jointly oppose politicizing or overstretching the concept of national security on economic issues.

According to a readout published by Ottawa's Global Affairs Canada department, Joly raised in the phone conversation concrete priorities for collaboration going forward, including fighting climate change and deepening the two countries' economic and people-to-people ties, for the benefit of citizens and businesses in both countries.

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at China Foreign Affairs University, said the phone conversation is a positive signal that shows the two sides' wish for healthy, coordinated and cooperative momentum in bilateral ties.

"But as the Chinese foreign minister has pointed out, the prerequisite for recovering and improving bilateral ties is for Canada to respect China's core interests, particularly to adhere to the one-China principle regarding the Taiwan question," Li said.

Stephen Nagy, a professor of politics and international studies at the Tokyo-based International Christian University, said the recent engagement is positive, but more efforts are needed to address the current China-Canada relationship which is "highly politicized".

"To address the challenges in the relationship, both sides will need to do the hard work of diplomacy and trust building behind closed doors through concrete action," Nagy said.

He said that people-to-people exchanges, such as student exchange programs, will help the two countries build grassroots-level relations, cultural and language literacy and real experiences to depoliticize relations over the long term.

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