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Results: 1 - 15 of 338
John McCallum
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Hon. John McCallum
2017-05-02 9:53
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. It's a real pleasure for me to be back. I've been in China for five weeks. I think it's a great position, but this place gets in one's blood a bit, so I'm always pleased to return. I guess my theory is that part of my job is persuading China, but part of my job is persuading Canada. It's good to be in both places. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to all of you today.
To get to the core of things, it's a fantastic time for Canada to strengthen its ties with China. As I'll explain, we have much to gain through building stronger ties with China, and the Prime Minister, the cabinet, and stakeholders across the country are keen to do just that. It takes two to tango, and I have a strong sense that the Chinese are also keen to work with us. Since the stars will not always be aligned so positively, now is the time to seize the moment and be ambitious. Now is the time to act. That, with the support of the government, is exactly what I am planning to do.
Let me start at the beginning. Within 24 hours of arriving in China I was invited to present my credentials to President Xi Jinping. I conveyed to him a message from our Prime Minister that can be summarized in three words, “More, more, more”, or in Mandarin, “Gèng duo, gèng duo, gèng duo”. I'm having six hours a week of Mandarin lessons to improve my skills in that area. We want, in both directions, more trade, more investment, more tourists, more students, more co-operation in every conceivable area. The president seemed to like that sentiment.
I would point out to you that “More, more, more” also translates into more jobs for Canadians, because every time we have more tourists from China, more exports to China, more investment in Canada from China, that has a strong tendency to create jobs in Canada.
I also explained to the president, in my very poor Mandarin, something that some of you may have heard, that my affinity to China can be explained by three numbers: 100, 50, 40. My wife is 100% Chinese, my three boys are 50% Chinese, and the good people of Markham, who elected me for 16 years, are 40% Chinese. The president smiled and he said, “No need for translation”, I subsequently learned, so I like to think he understood what I said.
Look, China's a two-way street. Before elaborating on why I think there's so much to gain, I also want to comment on the fact that there are many issues on which Canada and China disagree. We disagree on the death penalty. We disagree on some aspects of the rule of law, and privately and publicly on how the Chinese government treats human rights advocates. We have a continuing keen interest in the integrity of Hong Kong's autonomous institutions under the “one country, two systems” formula. That's why the consular side of my job is critical, and also why, in my first six weeks on the job, I spent time meeting and supporting an LGBTQ group in Shanghai, female entrepreneurs in a group working to counter domestic violence in Beijing, and a woman called Ching Tien, whose organization, Educating Girls of Rural China, has done fantastic work in educating low-income girls over many years.
That side of the job is very important, but in particular I'd like to take this opportunity to address head-on an issue that has generated some controversy among Canadians, namely, Canada's decision to discuss extradition issues with China. While we are a long way from negotiating an extradition treaty with China, we've agreed to talk about the issues that need to be addressed for China or any other country to meet our high standards. This includes things like the death penalty and the importance of high standards of evidence in court proceedings. We lose nothing by explaining our system and talking about the values we hold dear.
Let me now come to the other side of the coin, the more positive side as to why China is important to Canada. China is the world's largest emitter of CO2, but it's also the world's biggest investor in renewable energy, investing $103 billion U.S. in 2015, which is more than two and a half times what the United States invested.
If Canada is serious about climate change, which we are, and if we're serious about selling our clean-tech innovations to the world, which we are, then we have no choice but to engage China. China also has 20% of the world's women and girls, and China is increasingly a key player in places like Africa, which face real challenges to women's health and education. If we want to improve the plight of women and girls around the world, then China is a key partner. The same can be said on working with China in the area of peacekeeping.
Also, if we want to engage positively on North Korea and other regional and security issues, we need to work with China.
Fentanyl is the cause of a major public health crisis in Canada with over 1,000 deaths. Many of those drugs come from China. If we want to address this crisis, we must work with China. I might say, the Chinese government has co-operated well in working with us on this crisis.
Last but not least, if we want jobs and prosperity for Canadians, then once again China is an essential partner.
Whether we're talking about climate change, the plight of women and girls, the Fentanyl issue, peace and security issues, or the prosperity of Canadians, in all of these cases China is a key partner.
Let me turn quickly, because I think I'm running out of time, to some of the key economic issues.
In my opinion, tourism may be the priority. It's a matter of numbers. I visited Guangzhou, it is one of China's second or third major cities. It has a population of 10 million people.
President Xi has said that over the next five years, there will be 700 million Chinese tourists. Consequently, the opportunities for Canada are enormous, and it is absolutely clear that an increase in the number of Chinese tourists will create a lot of jobs in Canada.
I mention briefly other economic sectors that are of great importance. Wood products, Minister Champagne had a very successful and well-timed visit to China last week, where we spoke to a number of government and private sector wood people and I think we made good progress in terms of increasing Canada's exports of forest products to China.
On agri-food, we are number five now in China. We could become number three, if we work hard. There's a huge demand for healthy, nutritious food, such as comes from Canada.
Clean-tech and environment is another major opportunity. China and Canada are both signatories to the Paris agreement. China has important environmental and energy-efficiency objectives, so there are good opportunities in that area.
Education has always been a pillar of our relationship, and that is scoped to blossom even further.
Ministers Joly, Qualtrough, Philpott, and Sajjan are working to enhance our ties in their own areas of culture, sports, health, and defence.
Finally, e-commerce is critical. We all know that small and medium-sized companies don't often export very much, even to the United States, let alone to China. China is a leader in e-commerce. The Prime Minister has spoken to Jack Ma, head of Alibaba. I have spoken to him. We are working together to get more Canadian small companies to get onto the Chinese e-commerce system, which will be a very important way to increase exports to China.
Mr. Chair, I will leave it at that.
Thank you. I look forward to your questions.
John McCallum
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Hon. John McCallum
2017-05-02 10:04
Let me just go back to your point about the new Chinese ambassador to Canada.
I've seen the transcript of his interview, and it was somewhat taken out of context by the media reports. That being said, it is very clear that national security concerns are of great importance to the government and that whenever a Chinese investment, or investment from any country, is proposed that carries security concerns, it has to go through rigorous review. That has not changed.
In terms of the rules governing state-owned enterprises in Canada that you mentioned, those had been changed by the previous government. They have not been changed back. That could be an issue in a free trade negotiation, but no decision at all has been made. That point has not been raised by the Chinese with me to date.
In terms of my conversation with President Xi, it was less than five minutes and it was largely scripted, so I did not specifically on that occasion raise the question of those issues that you raised. They are, nevertheless, of critical importance to the government, as I indicated in my remarks. I know that Prime Minister Trudeau raised those issues with his counterpart.
I have served three Canadian Liberal prime ministers in their cabinets, Chrétien, Martin, and Trudeau—Trudeau two—and I know that in each of those cases, they have spoken frankly and freely to their Chinese counterparts about Canadian concerns over human rights and other such matters.
John McCallum
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Hon. John McCallum
2017-05-02 10:06
I am certainly aware of her case and other cases. I had several briefings on consular cases before I went to China and also before coming back here when I was in China. In all cases, we have regular consular visits to ensure that they are being treated properly, and that is the case in this person's situation.
When I said that I take my consular responsibility seriously, I was being serious. Some of these cases are elevated to a situation where even the leaders will have to deal with them. We are prepared to act where it is required. I am kept informed of the situation in each of those cases.
John McCallum
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Hon. John McCallum
2017-05-02 10:08
I've certainly been briefed on that case, and we certainly have been in touch with that individual. I don't think it's a good idea, either for legal reasons or for the sake of the individuals in question, for me to comment publicly on individual cases. That doesn't always help the person in detention if we broadcast their situation in public. I think in those cases, almost all of the time it is better to proceed in a low-profile way in order to do the best we can to help those individuals.
John McCallum
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Hon. John McCallum
2017-05-02 10:09
As I have said, I take that part of my job seriously. There was an issue involving criticism of the Chinese by a number of governments regarding possible torture, and this was something that the Chinese were not happy with us about. That's one very recent example of a case in which Canada has spoken out publicly. I'm telling you that while, in many cases, it doesn't serve the person in custody well, we do speak both privately and publicly on issues that are of concern to Canadians and we, as the government, hold these Canadian values dear and we are not shy to speak out on them.
In particular, we work very hard on any cases involving the death penalty. There are now five death penalty cases pending, and we are working very hard to persuade the Chinese authorities, as we would work hard to persuade any government authorities, including those of the United States, not to exercise the death penalty on Canadian citizens.
John McCallum
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Hon. John McCallum
2017-05-02 10:11
I certainly think that in some cases that would be true. In other cases, there might have been an agreement that was a condition of his release. It will depend on each case.
John McCallum
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Hon. John McCallum
2017-05-02 10:11
Good morning.
John McCallum
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Hon. John McCallum
2017-05-02 10:11
It's evening in China.
John McCallum
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Hon. John McCallum
2017-05-02 10:12
That's a good question. My mandate as ambassador is simple. We are in exploratory talks on a free trade agreement with China. That's a bilateral arrangement. I can answer questions about that if you wish, but that is currently my mandate. If you look more generally, the Canadian government is in favour of free trade as a matter of principle. Speaking as an economist, I think the best free trade agreement is a global free trade agreement under GATT, or what used to be GATT and is now WTO, but that has proven elusive to the world.
Countries have issued various forms of regional free trade agreements, including TPP, which is now seemingly not working. While my mandate is just this bilateral deal, I would say as a matter of principle that Canada is always open to various regional configurations on free trade arrangements, whether the TPP or some new configuration, given that the U.S. is apparently no longer interested. I'm sure that we as a government would be interested in exploring those. In terms of my specific job right now, it's really focusing on the China-Canada bilateral discussions.
John McCallum
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Hon. John McCallum
2017-05-02 10:14
I certainly think it's a good idea that Canada agreed, albeit belatedly, to join this infrastructure bank. It would have been better if we'd been a founding member, but that's now water under the bridge. It is good for Canada to be a member of that Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
We also are going to have participation in the one belt, one road conference, although we're not on the route, but many countries who are not on the route are nevertheless participating. One thing China and Canada have in common is infrastructure. This Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is a Chinese initiative. We have our own infrastructure bank that is in the process of being set up. As you know, infrastructure has been a major part of the government's program to help create jobs. I think there's great scope for Canadian companies to get involved with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and I think there's a community of interest in terms of China and Canada both pushing infrastructure as major initiatives.
John McCallum
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Hon. John McCallum
2017-05-02 10:16
Our position has always been clear that we want China to respect the international law on this issue. As to whether there could be some quiet diplomacy in which Canada might have an impact, I certainly think that is a possibility. My counterpart, our ambassador at the UN, Marc-André Blanchard, is likely to be visiting China at the time of this one belt, one road conference. He, at the UN, is very seized of these issues, so I think his visit, as well as that of the foreign affairs minister, of course later on, provides opportunity for discussion of these regional issues that are of great importance to Canada, and I do think there's an opportunity for more interaction with China in those areas.
John McCallum
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Hon. John McCallum
2017-05-02 10:17
I sometimes am guilty of what you might call a little bit of Australia envy. They have twice as many Chinese tourists as Canada does, and it's not that much further to get to Canada than to Australia.
John McCallum
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Hon. John McCallum
2017-05-02 10:17
More students as well.... Now I shouldn't be too anxious about that in one sense because they don't have the United States. We have the United States right beside us, so geographically and historically, it's natural for us to do so much trade with the U.S., which Australia doesn't have. But nevertheless, I would say Australia is a role model for Canada in many ways in terms of the strength of the relationship they have created with China.
In terms of your question about public opinion, I think part of the reason I plan to come back to Canada every six to eight weeks is that I think there are as many challenges in Canada as there are in China in terms of getting done what I want to get done. It's to talk to people in Ottawa, to talk to stakeholders across the country, but also to try to talk to Canadians through the media about the importance of China in Canada's future, not shying away from the negative things about human rights, which we were talking about earlier, but being balanced. We have to look at both.
There are clearly important areas where we disagree with China, but at the same time, there's huge opportunity for Canada and for Canadian jobs to have closer ties with China, and I think that's the message that I'm trying to impart.
John McCallum
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Hon. John McCallum
2017-05-02 10:19
[The witness speaks in Chinese.]
We have three languages.
John McCallum
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Hon. John McCallum
2017-05-02 10:19
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