Speech Article from  Global Affairs Canada

Address by Minister Dion at an event marking 45 years of Canada-China diplomatic relations

January 27, 2016 - Ottawa, Ontario

Check Against Delivery. This speech has been translated in accordance with the official languages policy and edited for posting and distribution in accordance with the Government of Canada’s communications policy.

What an incredible honour to be here this evening! Ambassador Luo Zhaohui, thank you for joining me to co-host these festivities. 

Colleagues from the house and the senate, your excellencies, members of the diplomatic corps. All of you, in your own way, have contributed to the strong ties that Canada and China share.

Officially, our relationship goes back 45 years, to 1970. Forty-five years is a long time in the history of Canada! For China, a partner that values time—the longue durée—and fidelity, 45 years counts as well!

Especially since unofficially, we go back much further than that.

A hundred years ago, Canadian medical missionaries did remarkable work in China. Then, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, our own Dr. [Norman] Bethune made his mark on Chinese history with his selfless devotion to others. Do you know his statue is in Montréal, in the Norman Bethune Square at the corner of Guy and De Maisonneuve streets? We should make this statue a place of pilgrimage!

In the 1960s, when many refused, it was Canada that sold wheat to China so its people could survive a profound food shortage.  

I am talking about what Canada did in China, but China also did a lot for Canada!

The Chinese have left a profound mark on this nation. In Canadian business, academia, society and politics, China’s diaspora community contributes to the fabric of Canadian society.

Our roots run deep.

I would like to tell you every story behind the pictures you see in this exhibit!

We know [former U.S. president Richard] Nixon went to China, but the Right Honourable Pierre Trudeau went to China before him.

In 1968, our prime minister said: “China must become a member of the world community because many of the major world issues will not be resolved unless and until an accommodation has been reached with the Chinese nation.”

It was true in 1968. It is true now.

At last November’s G-20 Summit, President Xi [Jinping] called our late prime minister’s vision “extraordinary.” I am sure many of you would agree.

This reminds us of what we have to achieve together—for the good of Canada, and for the good of the world—to address such concerns as:

  • inclusive growth and prosperity,
  • climate change and sustainable development,
  • infrastructure investment,
  • global health, and
  • global financial stability.

We have much in common and much to do.

Through our bilateral relations as within international bodies including the United Nations, we must continue to engage to build inclusive and constructive partnerships.

We need practical cooperation, including on human rights, where we need to see progress in this world. Cooperation is also needed in development, technical and scientific training, the environment and agriculture.

We need to work together and multilaterally for peace, for leveraging opportunities for further growth and prosperity; these are objectives we cannot do alone! We need to do this through our people-to-people ties.

Canada is home to almost 1.5 million people of Chinese descent—almost five percent of our population.

After English and French, Chinese dialects are Canada’s most-spoken languages.

We have in Canada more than 100,000 students from China every year—the largest group of foreign students in our country. Their presence contributes tremendously to the deepening of our bilateral relationship.

We have the people-to-people ties, but we also gave ourselves the forums to work together.

Canada, through the leadership of the Right Honourable Paul Martin, played a key role in the creation of the G-20. It was clear that we need to work with China, which represents one fifth of humanity! We thought then, and still think today, that China and other emerging economies have to be at the table and be part of the solution.

Canada wants a strong, forward-looking and vibrant relationship with China, and we are eager to keep building lasting bridges.

I have no doubt that we can succeed, and that we must.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called this “an era of greater co-operation and mutual benefit for both Canada and China in the coming years.”

May the celebration of our 45-year diplomatic ties be a first step toward a renewed vision for Canada-China relations!

Thank you / shié shié.


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