Canada-China (CACN) Briefing material 2020-01-30

Table of contents

Section A: CACN

Original motion

December 6, 2019 – That, in light of the prolonged diplomatic crisis with China, the House appoint a special committee with the mandate to conduct hearings to examine and review all aspects of the Canada–China relationship including, but not limited to, consular, economic, legal, security and diplomatic relations:

  1. that the committee be composed of 12 members, of which six shall be government members, four shall be from the official opposition, one shall be from the Bloc Québécois and one from the New Democratic Party;
  2. that changes in the membership of the committee shall be effective immediately after notification by the whip has been filed with the Clerk of the House;
  3. that membership substitutions be permitted, if required, in the manner provided for in Standing Order 114(2);
  4. that the members shall be named by their respective whip by depositing with the Clerk of the House the list of their members to serve on the committee no later than January 15, 2020;
  5. that the Clerk of the House shall convene an organization meeting of the said committee for no later than January 20, 2020;
  6. that the committee be chaired by a member of the government party;
  7. that notwithstanding Standing Order 106(2), in addition to the Chair, there be one vice-chair from the official opposition, one vice-chair from the Bloc Québécois and one vice-chair from the New Democratic Party;
  8. that quorum of the committee be as provided for in Standing Order 118 and that the Chair be authorized to hold meetings to receive evidence and to have that evidence printed when a quorum is not present, provided that at least four members are present, including one member of the opposition and one member of the government;
  9. that the committee be granted all of the powers of a standing committee, as provided in the Standing Orders, as well as the power to travel, accompanied by the necessary staff, inside and outside of Canada;
  10. that the committee have the power to authorize video and audio broadcasting of any or all of its proceedings; and
  11. that the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Public Safety, and the Canadian ambassador to China be ordered to appear as witnesses from time to time as the committee sees fit.

Participant bios

Dan Albas

(CPC—Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, BC)

Critic for employment, workforce development & disability inclusion

Key interests

Parliamentary roles

Albas is currently the critic for Employment, Workforce Development, and Disability Inclusion. From September 2013 until August 2015, Albas served as the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board.

Notable committee membership

Background

Albas was first elected to the House of Commons in 2011. Prior to becoming a federal MP, Albas was a martial arts instructor and opened his own studio called Kick City Martial Arts. Albas has been active in his local community where he was involved with fundraising for the United Way and part of a community group called the Penticton Housing Coalition which advocates for affordable housing. In 2005 he was named young entrepreneur of the year by the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce. In 2005 he also became a board member on the Chamber of Commerce and was selected to represent the region on the British Columbia Chamber of Commerce.

Statements about China

As of December 2019, Albas had raised China 26 times in house debates (20), and committee meetings (6). In the House of Commons on December 10, 2019, Albas discussed Canada’s changing relationship with China. Part of his remarks included, “We have bans or restrictions on some of our exports into China. The Liberals refuse to make a decision on what to do with Huawei. Agriculture and farming sectors have suffered significant financial consequences. The Liberal government meanwhile looks the other way and pretends as if there is nothing to see here. In my own riding I have a seniors care home that is ultimately now owned by the Chinese government. The seniors in care in this home are not receiving the care they deserve. When I have raised this issue in this place, the Liberals point the finger of blame somewhere else. There is no accountability for the seniors in that care home, but that is not a surprise.

After the first CACN meeting, Albas tweeted “On CTV Power Play, Robert Oliphant asked what the CPC would do differently when it comes to China. Here are a few examples: 1. Not appoint John McCallum as ambassador to China. 2. Not wait 120 days to take China to the WTO over canola. 3. Pull funding from the Asian Infrastructure Bank. 4. Not wait months to appoint an ambassador to China. We’ve been proposing not opposing Rob. Time for a government that stands up for our national interest.”

Leona Alleslev

(CPC—Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill, ON)

Deputy leader of the official opposition

Key interests

Parliamentary Roles

Alleslev was elected as a Liberal in the 2015 federal election and was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, where she served until September 2018.

In addition to her role as PS, Alleslev was the Chair of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association (CANA) beginning in March 2017. She was also a member of the Canada-China Legislative Association (CACN) from December 2015 to March 2016 and November 2016 to March 2017.

September 2018, Alleslev crossed the floor to join the CPC in September 2018. After crossing the floor, Alleslev was removed as Chair of the NATO Parliamentary Association.

Notable committee membership

Background

Alleslev is a former Canadian Air Force Officer, Senior Manager, and entrepreneur. Prior to serving as an MP, Alleslev held leadership positions in the Department of National Defence, as well as senior managerial roles with IBM Canada and Bombardier Aerospace. She served on the Aerospace Industry Association of Canada, the Ontario Aerospace Council and the Women in Aerospace Association joint government/industry change initiatives. Alleslev has also owned and operated two small businesses; an eco-tourism business in Temagami, and a custom closet and ‎home organization company in Aurora.

Alleslev earned a B.A. (Honours) in History and Political Science from the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston and received her Queen’s Commission to serve as an Air Force Logistic Officer.

Following the 2019 federal election she was appointed as the Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party.

Statements about China

As of December 2019, Alleslev had raised China 19 times in house debates (16), and committee meetings (3). On December 10, 2019 in the House of Commons, Alleslev proposed the creation of a special committee on Canada-China relations stating, “We need a special committee to examine and review all aspects of the Canada-China government relationship because we have standing committees and they are focused on individual subject matter areas. These include foreign affairs, international trade, official languages, and health and well-being. They have many other things that they need to study as well. We want to ensure that those other committees have the opportunity to study the things within their mandate that are important to Canada. However, regarding something of this magnitude, complexity and breadth and depth of scope, we need to examine and review all aspects from foreign affairs, to health and safety, cybersecurity and defence. The only way that we can look at it from a cross-functional perspective is by having a special committee.”

On December 13, 2019, Alleslev posted the following on Twitter: “Over the last 4 years, we’ve seen Canada’s relationship with China deteriorate rapidly. Everything from trade relationships to defence and security. We need to, as parliamentarians, look into that relationship”

Stéphane Bergeron

(BQ—Montarville, QC)

Critic for Foreign Affairs

Key interests

Parliamentary roles

Bergeron is currently the Bloc Québécois’ (BQ) Critic for Foreign Affairs. He is a member of numerous parliamentary associations and interparliamentary groups, particularly the Canada-China Legislative Association (CACN) and the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association (CANA). He also served as the Whip for the BQ from 1997 to 2001.

Notable committee membership

Background

Bergeron served as a BQ member of the House of Commons from 1993 to 2005 and a member of Quebec’s National Assembly from 2005 to 2018. In 2019, he returned to the House of Commons as a BQ member.

Bergeron has bachelors and master’s degrees in Political Science. After first leaving the House of Commons and serving in Quebec’s National Assembly for 13 years, Bergeron was Registrar of Rimouski’s CEGEP. He was previously a political advisor and a teaching assistant at the Universite Laval within the Political Science department. From 1984 to 1993 he served in the Canadian Forces as a naval Cadet Instructor Cadre officer.

Statements about China

As of December 2019, Bergeron had raised China three (3) times in house debates. On December 10, 2019, Bergeron voiced his support for the creation of a committee on Canada-China relations. He stated, “No one can deny that Canada-China relations, which were excellent until recently, have deteriorated considerably over the past few years. We can speak at length about the reasons the relationship has deteriorated, but there is no denying that Canada-China relations have deteriorated. There is a problem. Once we become aware of the problem what do we do? We can take the Liberal government's approach of late and close our eyes and leave the Canadian ambassador to China post vacant in Beijing for eight months. Yes, I said eight months. That is not a good approach to finding solutions. A minority government needs the good will of the whole House.”

Emmanuel Dubourg

(LPC—Bourassa, QC)

key interests

Parliamentary roles

During the 42nd Parliament, Dubourg served as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue. He was a member of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association (CANA) from September 2018 to March 2019.

Notable committee membership

Background

Dubourg was born in Saint-Marc, Haiti and emigrated to Canada in 1974. He received a Bachelor of Accounting and a Master of Business Administration. He has been a member of the Ordre des comptables agréés du Québec since 1987. Dubourg was a teacher at Université du Québec à Montréal, Université du Québec en Outaouais, and CEGEP Montmorency. He also worked as a Manager and Advisor at the Canada Revenue Agency. He has been honoured with several awards and citations for his work over the years, including the Governor General's Medal, the Innovation and Excellence prize from Revenue Canada in 1992 and the Black History Month Award in 2006 for his work in the black community.

Dubourg was a Member of the National Assembly of Quebec from 2007 to 2013. He then ran in a federal by-election in 2013 to become a Liberal MP.

Statements about China

As of December 2019, Dubourg had raised China 2 times in house debates (1) and committee meetings (1). Dubourg’s interventions on China have not been specific to bilateral relations between Canada and China.

Peter Fragiskatos

(LPC—London North Centre, ON)

Key interests

Parliamentary roles

Fragiskatos is a member of the Canada-China Legislative Association (CACN), and the Canada NATO Parliamentary Association (CANA).

Notable committee memberships

Background

Fragiskatos has a Bachelor of Political Science degree from Western University, a Master's in International Relations from Queen’s University, and holds a PhD in International Relations from Cambridge University.

Before becoming a MP in 2015, Fragiskatos was a political scientist at King’s University College, Western University. He also worked as a media commentator. His works have been published by major Canadian and international news organizations including Maclean’s Magazine, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, BBC News, and CNN. Fragiskatos served on the Board of Directors of Anago Resources and the Heritage London Foundation. He is an active member of his community who ran a youth mentorship program and has worked with many local not-for-profit groups.

Statements about China

As of December 2019, Fragiskatos has raised China nine (9) times in house debates (1) and committee meetings (8). Fragiskatos’ interventions on China have not been specific to bilateral relations between Canada and China.

Jack Harris

(NDP—St. John’s East, NL)

Critic for Foreign Affairs; Deputy Critic for Defence

Key interests

Parliamentary roles

Harris is currently the NDP’s Critic for Foreign Affairs, Public Safety, and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. Harris is also the Deputy Critic for Defence. Among the CACN members, only Harris was a member of the House Special Committee on Afghanistan Detainees (2009-2012), experience which is particularly relevant to this new special committee in a minority parliament.

Notable committee memberships

Background

Jack Harris is a lawyer and politician from Newfoundland and Labrador. He has represented St John’s East several times: from 1987-1988, from 2008 to 2015, and winning his seat again in 2019. He was the leader of the Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party from 1992 to 2006.

Statements about China

As of December 2019, Harris had raised China 10 times, in house debates (7), and committee meetings (3). His most relevant interventions were on December 10, 2019, when he spoke out in favour of forming a special committee on Canada-China relations.

Robert Oliphant

(LPC—Don Valley West, ON)

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Key interests

Parliamentary roles

Oliphant was made the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in May 2019 and retained this role in the 43rd Parliament.

Oliphant is actively involved in parliamentary associations. In particular, he has been a member of the Canada-China Legislative Association since December 2015. Oliphant travelled to China with this association in May 2019 as the Head of Delegation. Given his position as Parliamentary Secretary, this visit marked the first high-level interaction since bilateral irritants between Canada and China began in December 2018.

Notable committee memberships

Background

Oliphant was first elected to the House of Commons in October 2008. He was defeated in the 2011 federal election but was re-elected in 2015 and 2019.

Oliphant graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Toronto in 1978. During his time at U of T, Oliphant was active in the University of Toronto Liberal Club, as well as the Ontario (New) Young Liberals. After obtaining a Master of Divinity from the Vancouver School of Theology, Oliphant was ordained as a United Church Minister in 1984. His official title is The Reverend Doctor Robert Oliphant, MP.

Oliphant worked in Premier David Peterson’s office in 1989. He later worked for two provincial ministers, Christine Hart, Minister of Culture and Communications, and Mavis Wilson, Minister Responsible for Women’s issues.

Statements about China

As of December 2019, Oliphant had raised China 13 times, in house debates (12), and committee meetings (1). Oliphant’s statements regarding China have focused on defending the government’s position on China. Oliphant raises work the government is currently doing to engage the Chinese government regarding the arbitrary detention of Canadians in China.

Hon. Geoff Regan

(LPC—Halifax West, NS)

Key interests

Parliamentary roles

Regan was elected the 36th Speaker of the House of Commons from 2015-2019. Regan was a member of the Canada-China Legislative Association (CACN) from October 2011 to March 2015. After the 2004 election, Regan was appointed to act as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada in matters related to Maher Arar. Regan served as the Liberal critic for Natural Resources under both Ignatieff and Trudeau. In 2003, he was appointed the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. During this time, he was also the Regional Minister for Nova Scotia. Regan was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons from 2001 to 2003.

Notable committee memberships

Background

Regan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from St. Francis Xavier University, and a law degree from Dalhousie University. He was called to the Nova Scotia Bar in 1984. He was first elected to the House of Commons in 1993 and served until his defeat in the 1997 election. Regan was re-elected in the 2000, 2004, 2008, 2011, 2015, and 2019 federal elections.

Statements about China

As of December 2019, Regan had raised China 33 times, in house debates (18) and committee meetings (15). As Speaker, Regan did not make any interventions related to China; however, in previous parliaments Regan’s interventions were focused on natural resources and investment (as he was the Liberal critic for Natural resources under two leaders).

Chris Warkentin

(CPC—Grand Prairie-Mackenzie, AB)

Caucus-OLO Coordinator

Key interests

Parliamentary roles

Warkentin served as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services from February to August 2015. In 2015, Warkentin was appointed as the Official Opposition Critic Responsible for Agriculture and Agri-Foods. In September 2016, he was appointed Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition. Warkentin was a member of the Canada-China Legislative Assembly from February to March 2013.

Notable committee memberships

Background

Chris Warkentin studied business and marketing at Grande Prairie Regional College. His family owns a farm east of Grande Prairie, Alberta. Before being elected to the House of Commons, Warkentin owned and operated a residential construction company.

Warkentin was first elected to the House of Commons in 2006, and was subsequently re-elected in 2008, 2011, 2015, and 2019.

Statements about China

As of December 2019, Warkentin had raised China four (4) times, three (3) times in House debate and once (1) in committee. interventions on China have not been specific to bilateral relations between Canada and China.

Warkentin has been critical of the Government’s dealings with China, stating in July 2019, “China has effectively been beating Canada over the head for the last several months and Canadians across the country have been punished by the Prime Minister’s inaction. These former ambassadors are simply telling the Prime Minister that it’s time for him to do his job.” He noted that a Conservative government would take a harder stance to relations with China, “China has effectively been beating Canada over the head for the last several months and Canadians across the country have been punished by the Prime Minister’s inaction. These former ambassadors are simply telling the Prime Minister that it’s time for him to do his job.”

In June 2019, Warkentin released a statement on his website outlining Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “poor judgement on the world stage and weak approach to China,” noting his “approach to China [has] resulted in serious and in some cases, dire consequences for Canadians. He called on the Prime Minister to “personally raise use the G20 Summit as an opportunity to correct these failures.”

In April 2019, Warkentin issued a video on Facebook calling for an emergency debate about the “crisis that’s developed between Canada and China with regards to canola exports.” Further stating that “the government has not taken this crisis seriously.”

In March 2019, Warkentin released a statement on his website, calling for a response and solution from the Liberal government to the Chinese government`s revocation of a Canadian canola company’s export permit.” He further stated, “Canadian farmers rely on global markets to get the best price for their products... Justin Trudeau has let China walk all over him and Canadian farmers are paying for his weak leadership. Now the stability of Canadian canola exports to China and the livelihoods of farmers are at risk.” Additionally, he stated “Canadian agricultural products are known worldwide for their quality and canola is no different. The action that China has taken speaks more to the Prime Minister’s ineffective diplomacy than it does to the quality of Canadian canola... Farmers shouldn’t pay the price for Justin Trudeau’s mistakes.”

John Williamson

(CPC—New Brunswick Southwest, NB)

Critic for Labour

Key interests

Parliamentary roles

Williamson has served as the Vice-Chair for the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group. He has been a member of several other parliamentary associations and interparliamentary groups including the Canadian Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Canada-France Inter-Parliamentary Association, and the Canada-China Legislative Association.

Notable committee memberships

Background

Williamson graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science. He later obtained a Master's Degree in economic history from the London School of Economics. He worked for the National Post as an editorial writer and was a founding member of their editorial board. He was a national director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and was their national spokesperson from January 2004 to September 2008. In 2009, Williamson became the director of communications in the Prime Minister’s office under Stephen Harper. He stepped down in 2010 in order to run for office. Williamson won his seat in the 2011 federal election. He was defeated in the 2015 election but was re-elected in 2019.

Statements about China

As of December 2019, Williamson had raised China ten (10) times, twice (2) in House debate and eight (8) times in committee meetings. His most recent intervention was in 2013, noting that “While [the CPC] create better policy in Canada, the Liberal leader admires China’s basic dictatorship.”

Jean Yip

(LPC—Scarborough-Agincourt, ON)

Key interests

Parliamentary roles

She serves as Co-Chair of the Liberal Seniors’ Caucus and is a member of the Liberal Party’s Caucuses on Housing Affordability, Immigration, and Mental Health as well as Women’s and Scarborough Caucuses. Jean is a member of the Canada-China Legislative Association, as well as the Canadian Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the Canada-Armenia and Canada-Philippines Parliamentary Friendship Groups.

Notable committee memberships

Background

Yip was born in Scarborough, and raised in Agincourt, the riding that she now represents. Yip’s mother and father immigrated to Canada. After completing her degree at the University of Toronto, Yip pursued a career in insurance and underwriting and holds the Fellow Chartered Insurance Professional Designation.

She has three sons with her late husband, Arnold Chan (former MP for Scarborough-Agincourt).

Statements about China

As of December 2019, Yip had raised China once (1) in house debates. Her intervention was in May 2018 was regarding the large Asian population in her riding. She highlighted the importance of Asian Heritage Month.

Lenore Zann

(LPC—Cumberland-Colchester, NS)

Key interests

Parliamentary roles

Nil

Notable committee memberships

Background

Zann is Australian-Canadian actress and politician. She was elected as a Member of Parliament for the riding of Cumberland—Colchester in 2019. Before entering federal politics, she represented the electoral district of Truro-Bible Hill in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly from 2009 until 2019 as a member of the Nova Scotia New Democratic Party and from June 9, 2019 until September 12, 2019 as an Independent.

Statements about China

As of December 2019, Zann had not raised China in house debates and committee meetings.

Committee reports and transcripts

Background

A new House of Commons Special Committee on Canada-China Relations (CANC) has been established as a result of a motion passed by the House of Commons on December 10, 2019. The Committee is mandated to conduct hearings to examine and review all aspects of the Canada–China relationship, including, but not limited to, consular, economic, legal, security and diplomatic relations. The Committee will be granted all the powers of a standing committee, as provided in the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. In addition, the mandate specifically grants the Committee authority to order the Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Public Safety, and Canada’s Ambassador to China to appear as the committee sees fit.

Given the CACN’s broad mandate, it is anticipated that a number of Departments will be implicated in this Committee including, but not necessarily limited to Justice, Public Safety; Department of National Defence; Innovation, Science and Economic Development; Finance; Agriculture and Agri-food Canada.

Membership

The Committee will consist of 12 Members of Parliament, with membership weighted in line with the proportion of sitting MPs from each party.

Committee Operations

Statement by Prime Minister Trudeau

In Question period on December 11, the Prime Minister made the following mention of the CACN:

Mr. Speaker, over the past year, we have been working at all levels to ensure the safety of the Canadians being detained, and indeed continue to advocate for their release as we stand up for our canola farmers, as we protect our beef and pork exporters and as we continue to engage with this important trading partner, while at the same time standing up for human rights every step of the way.

We recognize there is an opportunity to collaborate further on the special committee on China. We just certainly hope the opposition parties will be careful not to play politics and endanger the lives of those Canadians with it.

Text of the motion establishing the Special Committee:

That, in light of the prolonged diplomatic crisis with China, the House appoint a special committee with the mandate to conduct hearings to examine and review all aspects of the Canada–China relationship, including, but not limited to, consular, economic, legal, security and diplomatic relations:

  1. that the committee be composed of 12 members, of which six shall be government members, four shall be from the official opposition, one shall be from the Bloc Québécois and one from the New Democratic Party;
  2. that changes in the membership of the committee shall be effective immediately after notification by the whip has been filed with the Clerk of the House;
  3. that membership substitutions be permitted, if required, in the manner provided for in Standing Order 114(2);
  4. that the members shall be named by their respective whip by depositing with the Clerk of the House the list of their members to serve on the committee no later than January 15, 2020;
  5. that the Clerk of the House shall convene an organization meeting of the said committee for no later than January 20, 2020;
  6. that the committee be chaired by a member of the government party;
  7. that notwithstanding Standing Order 106(2), in addition to the Chair, there be one vice-chair from the official opposition, one vice-chair from the Bloc Québécois and one vice-chair from the New Democratic Party;
  8. that quorum of the committee be as provided for in Standing Order 118 and that the Chair be authorized to hold meetings to receive evidence and to have that evidence printed when a quorum is not present, provided that at least four members are present, including one member of the opposition and one member of the government;
  9. that the committee be granted all of the powers of a standing committee, as provided in the Standing Orders, as well as the power to travel, accompanied by the necessary staff, inside and outside of Canada;
  10. that the committee have the power to authorize video and audio broadcasting of any or all of its proceedings; and
  11. that the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Public Safety, and the Canadian ambassador to China be ordered to appear as witnesses from time to time as the committee sees fit.

Report on Committee Hearing

Name of committee: Special Committee on Canada-China Relations (CACN)

Report prepared by:  Eileen Young, Cabinet and Parliamentary Affairs Division, Global Affairs Canada

Date and time: January 20, 2020, 1:00-3:15pm

Location: West Block, 225-A

Topic: Election of Chair

Members present:

LPC: Hon. Geoff Regan, Jean Yip, Lenore Zann, Marie-France Lalonde (sitting in for Emmanuel Dubourg), Peter Fragiskatos, Robert Oliphant (Parliamentary Secretary – Foreign Affairs)

CPC: Don Albas, Leona Alleslev, Todd Doherty (sitting in for John Williamson), Michael Barrett (sitting in for Chris Warkentin)

BQ: Stéphane Bergeron

NDP: Rachel Blaney (sitting in for Jack Harris)

Summary:

The House Special Committee on Canada-China Relations held its first meeting today from 1pm to 3:15pm.  The committee elected Geoff Regan (LPC) as the Chair and three Vice Chairs: Chris Warkentin (CPC), Stéphane Bergeron (BQ) and Jack Harris (NDP).  It was agreed to form a Sub-committee on Agenda and Procedure with five members. It was agreed that the sub-committee would meet as soon as possible.  A motion was also agreed that Ambassador Dominic Barton will be invited to appear before the Committee no later than February 7, 2020, for a two-hour televised appearance with 20 minutes of remarks; this appearance is to be preceded by briefings, sometime before February 7th, by  Government of Canada departmental officials to give everyone a similar starting point of understanding.  The topics, dates and officials to appear to brief the committee have not yet been determined. Discussions focussed on the possibility of the committee meeting on Mondays for three hours from 10am to 1pm. Nevertheless, a final decision has been referred to the subcommittee. During the course of the meeting, passing reference was made by different members to the detention of Canadians in China and financial losses of $1 billion for Canada’s canola farmers. Committee members were eager to launch their work without delay.

Overview of meeting:

The inaugural meeting of the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations (CACN) began with the election of the Chair. As per the motion, the Chair was required to be a member of the government (LPC). Parliamentary Secretary Robert Oliphant nominated the Honourable Geoff Regan (former Speaker of the House of Commons) to be Chair. Regan was acclaimed unanimously into his role. As Chair, Regan called for the election of vice chairs from the NDP, the CPC, and the BQ. MP Leona Alleslev (CPC) put forward Mark Warkentin as Vice-Chair, who was acclaimed unanimously into his role. As the BQ and NDP only have one member each sitting on the committee, Stéphane Bergeron (BQ) and Jack Harris (NDP) were acclaimed unanimously into their positions.

Routine motions:

Fragiskatos (LPC) moved that Library of Parliament analysts be retained by the committee. This motion was carried.

Fragiskatos (LPC) then moved for a sub-committee on agenda and procedures be struck and the composition of the committee should be six (6) members of CACN: the Chair, the three Vice-Chairs, the Parliamentary Secretary, and one other members from the government. There was some disagreement from the opposition regarding the makeup of the subcommittee, with Dan Albas (CPC) noting that most sub-committees have five (5) members sitting on it, not six (6), and there is generally no requirement for the PS to sit on the sub-committee. PS Oliphant then noted that the proposed makeup of the sub-committee reflected the Special Committee, and the makeup of the House of Commons more generally. CPC moved a motion to amend the makeup of the committee. The motion carried. PS Oliphant then moved to amend the motion, changing the language slightly, stating that the committee will use a process of consensus decision-making. There was some back and forth between the LPC and MP Leona Alleslev (CPC) about the definition of this this term. MP Stéphane Bergeron (BQ) moved a sub-amendment to change “consensus” to “spirit of collaboration”. The motion with Bergeron’s (BQ) sub-amendment was carried.

Fragiskatos (LPC) moved that opening statements from witnesses be 10 minutes long, followed by questioning. He outlined the order of the rounds and the length of questioning time per round. The motion was carried.

Fragiskatos (LPC) moved a motion regarding the distribution of documents. All documents will be distributed by the Clerk only once they are available in both official languages. The motion was carried.

Fragiskatos (LPC) moved that the Clerk be able to order coordinate meals when the committee is meeting. The motion was carried.

Fragiskatos (LPC) moved that witnesses' expenses will be covered up to a certain threshold. The motion was carried.

Fragiskatos (LPC) moved that one staff member from each member’s office be allowed to be present during in camera meetings. The motion was carried.

Fragiskatos (LPC) moved that in camera transcripts will be kept in the Clerk’s office and be available for viewing by the committee members. The motion was carried.

Fragiskatos (LPC) moved that notices of substantive motions must be given to the Clerk 48 hours in advance. The notice should be filed no later than 4pm (EST), Monday-Friday, in both official languages. The motion was carried.

Todd Doherty (CPC) moved that all meetings, except those in camera, be televised, if possible, or webcast. The motion was carried.

Alleslev (CPC) moved “That the committee invite the Ambassador of Canada to the People’s Republic of China, Mr. Dominic Barton to appear in person before the committee for a two-hour televised meeting on Monday, January 27, 2020. That Mr. Barton be given 20 minutes to update the committee on the state of relations between Canada and the People’s Republic of China and that the remaining time be allotted for questions and comments from the Members of the committee.” Alleslev noted that it was extremely important to hear from Ambassador Barton immediately, as he is best placed to explain the Canada-China relationship, as the Government’s “point man” on this file. PS Oliphant agreed that Ambassador Barton should be the committee’s first witness but impressed upon the committee that other officials would be better placed to brief, then the committee members would be poised to ask the best questions. The opposition did not generally agree with this. PS Oliphant suggested that they meet with the Ambassador as soon as possible but that the committee needs to have the sub-committee meet before the Ambassador appears. Albas (CPC) suggested a three-hour meeting on January 27 to include the Ambassador, USS and the National Security Advisor (NSA). It was decided the sub-committee would meet as soon as possible. They can then issue a report so the business of the committee can start as soon as possible. The committee will be briefed in advance of an appearance by the Ambassador. The Ambassador will appear no later than February 7, in a two hour long televised appearance. The Ambassador will have 20 minutes for opening remarks, with the rest of the time set aside for questioning.

Discussion of meeting times and frequency. Options were Monday from 11am-1pm, or Thursday from 5:30pm-7:30pm and Friday 8:45am-10:45am. CPC suggested one three (3) hour meeting on Mondays from 10am-1pm. There was general agreement; however, no decision was made and the subject was relayed to the sub-committee for decision since two of the Vice-Chairs were not present and able to confirm their agreement.

Special Committee on Canada-China Relations

Témoignages number 01

Monday, January 20, 2020

(1300)

[English]

The Clerk of the Committee (Ms. Christine Holke): Honourable members of the committee, I see a quorum.

I must inform members that the clerk of the committee can only receive motions for the election of the chair. The clerk cannot receive other types of motions, cannot entertain points of order nor participate in debate.

[Français]

Nous pouvons donc procéder à l’élection à la présidence.

Conformément à la motion adoptée par la Chambre des communes le 10 décembre 2019, le président doit être un député du parti ministériel.

Je suis maintenant prête à recevoir des motions pour la présidence.

Madame Zann, vous avez la parole.

Mme Lenore Zann (Cumberland—Colchester, Lib.): Je vous remercie.

[English]

I would like to suggest Geoff Regan.

[Français]

La greffière: Il est donc proposé par Mme Zann que M. Regan soit élu président du comité.

Y a-t-il d’autres motions?

Plaît-il au comité d’adopter la motion?

(La motion est adoptée)

La greffière: Je déclare la motion adoptée et M. Regan dûment élu président du comité.

Des députés: Bravo!

La greffière: J’invite M. Regan à prendre le fauteuil.

[English]

The Chair (Hon. Geoff Regan (Halifax West, Lib.)): Well, thank you very much, colleagues. As I said a moment ago without the microphone on, I'm not accustomed to acclamations.

Mr. Doherty, just before I go to you, it's been indicated to me that the committee's in agreement, and I invite the clerk to proceed with the election of the vice-chairs—that's the procedure I'm supposed to follow now—if I may.

The Clerk: Pursuant to the motion adopted by the House of Commons on December 10, 2019, the committee has one vice-chair from the official opposition, one vice-chair from the Bloc Québécois and one vice-chair from the New Democratic Party.

I am now prepared to receive motions for the vice-chair from the official opposition.

Madame Alleslev.

Ms. Leona Alleslev (Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, CPC): I would like to propose Chris Warkentin.

The Clerk: It has been moved by Ms. Alleslev that Mr. Warkentin be elected as vice-chair from the official opposition.

Are there any further motions?

Is it the pleasure of the committee to adopt the motion?

(Motion agreed to)

The Clerk: I declare the motion carried and Mr. Warkentin duly elected vice-chair from the official opposition.

(1305)

[Français]

Je suis maintenant prête à recevoir des motions pour le poste de vice-président provenant du Bloc québécois.

M. Robert Oliphant (Don Valley-Ouest, Lib.): C’est un grand plaisir de proposer M. Bergeron pour le poste de vice-président du comité.

La greffière: Il est proposé par M. Oliphant que M. Bergeron soit élu vice-président provenant du Bloc québécois.

Y a-t-il d’autres motions?

(La motion est adoptée.)

La greffière: Je déclare M. Bergeron dûment élu vice-président provenant du Bloc québécois.

[English]

I am now prepared to receive motions for the vice-chair from the New Democratic Party.

Ms. Rachel Blaney (North Island—Powell River, NDP): I am so pleased to be here today and move that the vice-chair be held by Jack Harris.

The Clerk: It has been moved by Ms. Blaney that Mr. Harris be elected as vice-chair from the New Democratic Party.

Are there any other motions?

Is it the pleasure of the committee to adopt the motion?

(Motion agreed to)

The Clerk: I declare the motion carried and Mr. Harris duly elected vice-chair from the New Democratic Party.

The Chair: I see Mr. Fragiskatos.

Mr. Peter Fragiskatos (London North Centre, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chair, and congratulations. I'll take this opportunity to say how much I look forward to working with colleagues across the way, and certainly on this side of the table.

I understand, Mr. Chair, that there's been certain discussion among the parties to introduce routine motions. I want to take the opportunity to do that now.

The Chair: You have a routine motion to propose.

Mr. Peter Fragiskatos: I do. I have a series, yes.

The Chair: You can go ahead and do that.

Mr. Doherty.

Mr. Todd Doherty (Cariboo—Prince George, CPC): Prior to doing that, there is considerable interest in this by Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Indeed, we have a full gaggle of media outside the doors.

I move that for the the rest of this meeting, prior to the routine motions, we invite our friends in from the media and televise the rest of this meeting.

The Chair: Mr. Oliphant—Ms. Alleslev, pardon me, then Mr. Oliphant.

Ms. Leona Alleslev: Then I would like to move a motion as well. I'm not clear. Did you want me to move that motion now?

The Chair: We have a motion before the committee. We don't debate the question whether to televise or not. We simply vote on that.

Then we'll go on from there. I did recognize Mr. Fragiskatos first.

Mr. Robert Oliphant: Can I ask a question of the chair with respect to this?

My understanding was that there had been discussion among the whips of the parties and there was agreement just in the last hour or so that the meeting would be televised, and that we would have the television cameras as established by the House of Commons, and if that the crew is ready and available to do that camera work, that is usually the preference. I understand if the House of Commons facilities for television are available, that is what is then allowed, and that is the standard procedure of committees.

I might want the chair to check that with the clerk because I don't think it is in order to have a motion with respect to bringing in outside cameras when House of Commons cameras are available.

The Chair: I'm advised as previously noted, an interest from a network to carry this and that the House is ready for the televising of the committee in the usual way if there is agreement to do that, but Mr. Doherty's motion is properly before the committee.

I had just better ask one more question.

As there was no chair, the clerk made arrangements to have that ready if that were the will of the committee, so I will ask you, Mr. Doherty, if that is acceptable to you in relation to what you are seeking here today.

(1310)

Mr. Todd Doherty: Yes, Mr. Chair.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

Is it agreed?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Chair: We'll have to pause a few minutes for the televising of this. It will only be a few seconds while that is prepared.

Hon. Geoff Regan: We're back in session.

We now need to deal with routine motions.

Mr. Fragiskatos, you have some that have been distributed, as I understand it.

Mr. Peter Fragiskatos: Yes, that's correct, Mr. Chair.

I'll just begin one by one, if I could.

The first of these routine motions is as follows. It pertains to analysts:

That the committee retain as needed and at the discretion of the Chair the services of one or more analysts from the Library of Parliament to assist in its work.

Mr. Peter Fragiskatos:

The Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure.

That the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure be established and be composed of six members: the chair, three vice-chairs, the parliamentary secretary and one other member from the government.

Hon. Geoff Regan: Mr. Albas.

Mr. Dan Albas (Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, CPC): Thanks, Mr. Chair. Congratulations on your election.

It's a pleasure to serve with everyone here.

I certainly believe that we need to have routine motions. I would like to propose a small change, so I propose a following amendment, that after the word “vice-chairs”, the parliamentary secretary, and the semi colon is removed completely. Again, removal of the comma, the parliamentary secretary, semi colon.

I'll be happy, if you find the motion in order, Mr. Chair, to give rationale for it.

Pardon me, I've also been told that one would have to change also the number of committee members on the subcommittee, so it would be from “six” to “five”.

(1315)

The Chair: That would be from “six” to “five”.

The motion to amend the motion is in order.

Debate on the motion to amend?

Mr. Albas.

Mr. Dan Albas: Yes, I just think that the government, by having both the chair as well as having a member from the government side—they could choose a parliamentary secretary if they like—but in order to be able to have a majority vote if making a recommendation from the subcommittee back to this, it would probably be sufficient. With six members you could end up with a split, so this would still allow the government to have its member, still be able to decide whether it's a parliamentary secretary or not. I just don't believe there should be a six-member subcommittee, and the amendment should be by removing the parliamentary secretary.

Mr. Robert Oliphant: I don't think we will argue this too strenuously, but we want to point out just the arithmetic of this subcommittee. The intention is to mirror, as closely as we can, the makeup of the special committee itself on the subcommittee, which is already somewhat less proportionately towards the government side than the House of Commons, which the people of Canada elected.

When you look at the House of Commons as elected by the people of Canada, obviously there is a minority government. Obviously we understand that we want to keep that same balance on this committee, as all our committees, as they're struck, will be maintaining. However, we think the number of six is actually quite fair and quite good.

The reality of the arithmetic of it is that when that committee meets there will be three members of the opposition and two members on the government side, so it's three to two, with the chair obviously on the committee, however not voting unless there is a tie. If there is a tie, that allows the full members of the opposition to be engaged in this as opposed to just the official opposition. The other opposition parties then are able to express their desire as well and be equally accorded a position on this subcommittee.

We think it's actually very fair to ensure that we have representatives of all the parties with the weight that is important. We would be arguing that having two members of the government, three members of the opposition and a chair, who will not be able to sway the vote if all the opposition are on one side and the government is on the other side even if.... It's not going to happen that we can have a tie unless one of the opposition parties supports another party, so we think it's a fair representation of the results of the last election, as indicated by the House of Commons. We think it affords an opportunity for the smaller parties to be fairly represented on the subcommittee.

Mr. Dan Albas: Yes.

I certainly appreciate the member's remarks, but...two things. First of all, let's put in perspective that the subcommittee really is there for scheduling and any kind of decision from that body would have to be ratified by ours. At the end of the day, full committee members on this committee are always going to get our way.

But I would also point out that from speaking to people who have served in previous minority Parliaments, the practice for a subcommittee was five members, not six, so we don't need to reinvent the wheel. We are going to be productive on this committee. We just don't believe that a parliamentary secretary needs to be named specifically to that. A parliamentary secretary can be named as a member of the government or someone else can be. It's the pleasure of the government to decide who will serve on that subcommittee.

I would just ask all members who believe that it should be five, to vote in favour of that resolution and we can get on to the rest of the work of the committee.

The Chair: Okay.

Seeing no one else wishing to speak, I'll call on Mr. Oliphant.

Mr. Robert Oliphant: A question I would have that I think would be a very important concept is a clear declaration by the Official Opposition that their intention is to work by consensus in this subcommittee as opposed to by voting. If we had an understanding that the opposition was in favour of all work being done at the subcommittee, being done by consensus, and that reports be made to the full committee were done by a consensus decision, then we would have difficulty whatsoever with five.

I have not heard from the opposition that they are actually willing to work it by consensus. If I could get that statement clearly recorded that this will be our working mandate for the subcommittee then we will not a problem with that.

(1320)

The Chair: Mr. Albas.

Mr. Dan Albas: I don't mean to belabour this to committee, but, again, whatever the subcommittee decides must be ratified by this body. Whether there was consensus or not, if there's not a consensus at this committee, the full committee, it will not proceed.

I also would remind the member that if consensus could be had with two Liberals in addition to the chair then you can get consensus with one. Just make sure that person is eloquent and reasonable.

The Chair: Mr. Oliphant.

Mr. Robert Oliphant: What I have asked for is a clear statement from the Official Opposition that they are prepared to work in consensus at the subcommittee. If I have a clear statement on the record that they are prepared to work in consensus we will support the amendment.

The Chair: Mr. Albas.

Mr. Dan Albas: All I can simply say without knowing the members is I'm not going to tie members' hands, whether they be the Official Opposition, other opposition members, or the government. Democracy is how we get things done when people don't agree. I would just leave it to those members. I have faith that they'll be able to do it, especially if there's five.

The Chair: Mr. Bergeron then Mr. Oliphant.

[Français]

M. Stéphane Bergeron (Montarville, BQ): Monsieur le président, pour répondre à la requête de notre collègue, M. Oliphant, j’aurais tendance à dire que chacun et chacune des membres de ce comité peut avoir l’assurance que, de notre côté, nous allons travailler en toute collaboration avec l’ensemble des formations politiques. J’insiste pour dire que je ne crois pas que ce comité soit l’endroit approprié pour mener des luttes partisanes. Je pense que le but de ce comité est d’explorer des voies pour permettre l’amélioration des relations entre la Chine et le Canada. Je pense que nous devons impérativement travailler dans un esprit de collaboration. Si c’est ce que demande notre collègue, je l’assure de ma pleine collaboration.

[English]

The Chair: Mr. Oliphant.

[Français]

M. Robert Oliphant: Merci beaucoup. Nous avons exactement le même sentiment. Nous voulons un esprit de collaboration dans tout notre travail ici. Je pense que c’est nécessaire d’avoir aussi quelque chose qui est approprié pour tous les partis, aux comités et aux sous-comités. Je pense que la collaboration est importante, mais je pense aussi que tous les partis doivent avoir l’occasion de démontrer leur engagement envers ce dont vous avez parlé.

[English]

The Chair: Seeing no other speakers, we have before us the motion to amend.

I think the members are familiar with what the motion to amend says so I will call for the vote.

Those in favour of the motion to amend, please signify by raising your hands.

Those who are opposed to the motion please raise your hands.

I didn't see the hand of Mr. Bergeron.

[Français]

M. Stéphane Bergeron: Je pense que j’étais en train de parler au moment où vous avez fait l’appel au vote. Je précise que, dans l’esprit de ce qu’expliquait M. Oliphant, personnellement, je vivrais tout aussi bien avec l’une ou l’autre des deux formules, dans la mesure où les choses se passent dans un esprit de collaboration. Or je constate que mon vote est prépondérant. Alors, je vais me prononcer avec mes collègues de l’opposition.

(1325)

[English]

The Chair: The motion to amend is carried, so the motion is now amended.

(Amendment agreed to)

The Chair: Now we're back to the main motion as amended in the fashion as you've heard. Any further discussion on the motion as amended?

Seeing none, Mr. Oliphant.

Mr. Robert Oliphant: I would like to further amend the motion after the new period, which would then change to a comma, and say, “and that the subcommittee on agenda and procedure will work in a process of consensus decision-making.”

The Chair: Madam Alleslev, on debate.

Ms. Leona Alleslev: Can you give us an idea of what you see as meaning consensus?

The Chair: Mr. Oliphant.

Mr. Robert Oliphant: Consensus means we will work as a committee in the best interests of the tasks at hand, the five mandates that have been given to this committee, that it will work to present a unified voice to this body, which will then vote and agree or not agree, that we strike very early in this process a collaborative spirit and work by consensus to attempt to find meeting schedules, meeting times, witness lists, when we choose to have or not have a report or interim report. If we can work that out by consensus at the subcommittee, I think the work of this committee, even if it comes to a vote that is overturned by this committee, establishes a routine way of working. If we can get those five people to agree on something we will do better work and Canadians will be better served.

The Chair: I have Ms. Alleslev, Ms. Blaney and Mr. Albas.

Ms. Alleslev.

[Français]

Mme Leona Alleslev: J’aimerais exprimer encore une fois les sentiments de notre collègue de l’opposition. Nous travaillons toujours de manière collaborative dans le but d’avoir une voix unanime et respectueuse de tous nos députés et collègues. Cet amendement relatif aux procédures indique qu’on ne peut pas expliquer les deux côtés d’un enjeu devant le comité en entier. Cela n’est pas le mandat d’un sous-comité et d’un comité.

Nous allons discuter et nous allons tenter d’arriver à un consensus, mais il se peut qu’on n’y arrive pas. C’est une situation tellement importante et critique, et nous voulons avoir l’occasion de présenter les deux côtés de l’enjeu devant tout le comité. Ainsi, je ne peux pas appuyer qu’on écrive cela noir sur blanc dans les procédures, mais nous allons essayer d’avoir cette intention néanmoins.

[English]

The Chair: Ms. Blaney.

Ms. Rachel Blaney: Thank you, Chair. Congratulations on being appointed to this very important role on this very important committee.

I appreciate the discussion that's happening right now. I understand we're in a minority government. I've never done this before, so I have a lot to learn and I'm excited to do so. I believe also that at the end of the day Canadians are sending us to this place to work together collaboratively to get things done, so I have a great appreciation for that. What I'm curious about, though, is if this the usual practice. I have never seen this before brought forward in routine proceedings. This is only my second term. Is this something that's happened before? Is this something that is more reflective in a minority government? I need a little more information before I make my decision.

The Chair: Mr. Albas.

Mr. Dan Albas: Thank you.

I also agree that Canadians do want parliamentarians to work together, particularly on a committee that's supposed to be rather germane, in terms of scheduling.

I personally don't believe we need to have it. In fact, the one committee that does operate by consensus in this place is actually the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations, which is both the House of Commons with the Senate. Members do work on consensus. The problem is that if there is no consensus—and I've been in some of those meetings—you will go around for an hour on a simple, “Should it be a comma or should it be a semicolon?”, if there cannot be a reasonable way to decide how to move forward, and that's by democratic vote.

I would just suggest that if the Liberals are truly concerned about consensus-building at the subcommittee, they send someone who is reasonable, and who has not just reasonable decorum but also brings forward proposals that people can get around. That's how you get people to agree, by listening and by doing that. You don't need to put that on a piece of paper; you just need to do it.

I would suggest to this group let's carry on. Let's let the subcommittee form. Let's see how they do. If someone is not behaving, and not getting things done or being a block, you either have a vote or you come back to this committee and say, “We're not working well, send us some new members”, and we'll do that.

(1330)

The Chair: Mr. Fragiskatos.

[Français]

Ensuite, M. Bergeron aura la parole.

[English]

Mr. Peter Fragiskatos: I just bring to this committee's attention—this is to Ms. Blaney's point but it also speaks to what Mr. Albas just said—there is, in fact, a precedent for what Mr. Oliphant has put forward, which I think is very reasonable. It's not as if it's seeking to establish a precedent as far as how subcommittees work.

The subcommittee on the foreign affairs committee is the international human rights committee, which has operated throughout its history by consensus, exactly along the lines of how Mr. Oliphant has described. I don't see why we can't follow towards a path of consensus in the way we've heard here. I think this is an opportunity to work collaboratively, in a way that Canadians would expect.

I go back and say that this exists. We have a subcommittee. I know Mr. Albas just talked about a committee of Parliament, but it's more apropos, in my mind, that we look at what precedent could exist on a subcommittee level in this Parliament, and that's the subcommittee on international human rights which, as I say, has operated by consensus. I don't believe that principle has been broken for at least 10 years. My memory could be wrong on this, but it operates on consensus very, very well, and I think we could do the same here.

[Français]

Le président suppléant (L'hon. Geoff Regan): Monsieur Bergeron, vous avez la parole.

M. Stéphane Bergeron: Monsieur le président, vous me permettrez de vous exprimer mon inquiétude.

Nous sommes à la deuxième motion de routine et nous peinons déjà à nous entendre. Si nous sommes sérieux dans cette volonté de travailler en collaboration et dans un esprit de consensus, il va falloir qu’on trouve plus facilement des voies de passage entre nous. Personnellement, je n’avais pas vraiment de difficulté avec le mot « consensus », dans la mesure où « consensus », ce n’est pas l’unanimité. Pour moi, il y a une distinction très claire entre « consensus » et « unanimité ». J’interprétais le mot « consensus », tel que présenté par M. Oliphant, comme étant « dans un esprit de collaboration ».

Or je sens que nous sommes dans une situation où nous allons devoir jeter le bébé avec l’eau du bain. Cela ne me plait pas du tout. Je ne sais pas si, dans un esprit de collaboration, M. Oliphant serait ouvert à remplacer le mot « consensus » par « esprit de collaboration », histoire de faire en sorte de ne pas tout perdre en bout de piste.

Le président suppléant (L'hon. Geoff Regan): Nous allons maintenant débattre du sous-amendement proposé par M. Bergeron.

Monsieur Oliphant, vous avez la parole.

M. Robert Oliphant: Je suis d’accord.

[English]

I think that is absolutely fine to have that there.

It is obviously clear to me that there's a difference between unanimity and consensus. Consensus generally means I may not agree with it but I can live with it. That is what has been my history. My history comes from the United Church of Canada and we work on a consensus model and we've done that for the last 35 years. It means that we work towards something, we reach an opinion, we share an opinion, and we hear each other. Yet, we may not agree with it but we can live with it and we present it as such to the broader committee.

As per Ms. Blaney's comments the subcommittees I have actually worked on, both in public safety and national security, as well as being chairs of the committees on citizenship and immigration, we did not take votes. We worked until we could reach an agreement and I think that is something that is very good to do. However, I can also live with working in a spirit of collaboration; that is also fine with me.

I would be supporting Mr. Bergeron's subamendment to change that from consensus to in a spirit of collaboration.

(1335)

The Chair: My question is, do we have further debate on this subamendment question?

Ms. Leona Alleslev: I just want clarity on the wording.

Is it, 'in the spirit of collaboration'?

The Chair: What Mr. Bergeron proposed was to remove the words 'consensus decision-making'. It would say, 'the subcommittee will work in a spirit of collaboration'. That's the key change.

Mr. Albas.

Mr. Dan Albas: I would support that.

I would imagine anyone who we send as a vice-chair, or a designate from the government, would be looking to work with each other on our planning. I really don't think the juice is worth the squeeze here but I do appreciate that my colleague has actually improved Mr. Oliphant's original intent.

I will be supporting the .

The Chair: Is there further debate on the proposed subamendment?

Seeing none, I'll call for the vote.

Those in favour?

(Motion agreed to)

The Chair: We are now back to the main motion.

Is there any further debate on the main motion as amended?

Sorry, where are we exactly?

We are back to the whole motion as amended.

Is there any further debate on the motion as amended?

Seeing none, those in favour please raise your hands. Contrary minded, I see none.

(Motion agreed to)

The Chair: All right.

Mr. Fragiskatos, I think we're back to you.

Mr. Peter Fragiskatos: Mr. Chair, this routine motion relates to reduced quorum:

That the chair be authorized to hold meetings to receive evidence and to have that evidence printed when a quorum is not present provided that at least four members are present including one member of the opposition, one member of the government, but when travelling outside the parliamentary precinct that the meeting begin after 15 minutes regardless of members present.

The Chair: Is there any discussion of this motion?

Seeing none, is it agreed?

(Motion agreed to)

The Chair: Mr. Fragiskatos.

Mr. Peter Fragiskatos: The questioning of witnesses:

That the witnesses be given 10 minutes for their opening statement. That, as the discretion of the chair, during the questioning of witnesses, there be allocated six minutes for the first questioner of each party, as follows: round one, Conservative Party, followed by the Liberal Party, followed by the Bloc Québécois, followed by the New Democratic Party.

For the second and subsequent rounds the order and time for questioning will be as follows, Mr. Chair.

Conservative Party, five, and thereafter, five minutes. The Liberal Party, five minutes, the Conservative Party, five minutes; the Liberal Party, five minutes; the Bloc Québécois, two and a half minutes; the New Democratic Party, two and a half minutes.

The Chair: Comments or debate?

Mr. Doherty.

Mr. Todd Doherty: Mr. Chair, I have a question regarding to the number of witnesses in a meeting.

I know in other committees when we have been jammed up with witnesses and the availability of witnesses it's not preferred that we reduce the amount of time to seven minutes. Or, do we extend the meeting? Given that we may have a number of witnesses per meeting that may jam up the entire meeting.

Do we want to deal with the number of witnesses per meeting that we'll be calling?

(1340)

The Chair: That's a question you're asking the whole committee and that could be a separate matter for the subcommittee for that matter.

Who do we have next?

Mr. Albas.

Mr. Dan Albas: Mr. Chair, obviously it's a new Parliament so we should start with this. If there begins to be a big issue, then we can always move a motion at some later point to amend our routine proceedings, but I'm satisfied that we can try it out, and if it serves the committee well, then we'll go with that.

The Chair: Okay, Monsieur Bergeron.

[Français]

M. Stéphane Bergeron: Comme on dirait dans le domaine de l’informatique, je dirais que c’est la valeur par défaut. Comme on vient de l’évoquer, on peut se retrouver dans des situations où l’on dispose d’un peu moins de temps. Il peut y avoir d’autres situations. Par exemple, lorsque le premier ministre comparaîtra, je serais très mal à l’aise de limiter ce dernier à 10 minutes de temps de parole s’il veut prendre plus de temps. Comment allons-nous gérer cela entre nous? Je pense que nous devrions en discuter dès maintenant pour éviter de nous retrouver devant une impasse advenant le cas où la situation requière qu’on modifie cette règle de base.

[English]

The Chair: Mr. Oliphant.

Mr. Robert Oliphant: My understanding is that generally parliamentary committees have worked if there is unanimous consent around the table to move away from the routine proceedings. It is done meeting-by-meeting, caseby- case situation. What would happen is the chair would test whether or not the committee—if there were two panels happening in the same meeting, instead of two 10 minutes, the chair and the clerk may offer advice to the committee that they take seven minutes or seven and a half minutes. If there is only one that the committee wanted to hear from, they may suggest to the committee that they want 15 minutes.

I have never experienced that as a problem in committees. Generally it's at the discretion of the chair and the clerk and generally there is just nodding, or nodding off of the committee members as they make that decision. I have always seen that as not difficult.

In the routine motions we set the rounds. We're attempting in this motion to say that the government party takes 33% of the time. The Conservative Party, the Official Opposition, gets 33% of the time, and the NDP and the Bloc each get 17% of the time.

The government is showing generosity in allowing more time for the opposition than for the government side and that is the routine proceeding. When we get into meeting-by-meeting, case-by-case then we trust the chair and the clerk to advise our committee and we will agree or not agree, but that is at the discretion of the chair.

The Chair: Is there any further—Monsieur Bergeron.

[Français]

M. Stéphane Bergeron: Je me sens l’obligation de revenir en arrière. Je comprends très bien ce que nous dit M. Oliphant, mais j’ai également souvenir de situations où des partis ministériels se montraient moins collaborateurs quand venait le temps, par exemple, d’interroger le premier ministre. Je suis d’avis que 10 minutes pour un premier ministre, ce n’est peut-être pas suffisant. Je suis d’avis que, pour les partis de l’opposition, le temps présenté ici pour interroger le premier ministre, ce n’est peut-être pas suffisant non plus. Je ne voudrais pas qu’on se retrouve dans la situation où, ayant présenté une requête pour augmenter le temps, on ait une fin de non-recevoir de la part du gouvernement.

[English]

The Chair: Mr. Fragiskatos.

Mr. Peter Fragiskatos: I hope we can get back to that word “consensus” here on the issue, but I think that it would be wise perhaps to send this matter to the subcommittee to examine. When it comes to witness time and these sorts of things, that's not unimportant. It's very important, but it's a matter specifically for the subcommittee to work out and look at—at least that's been my experience. Those matters are usually brought to the subcommittee's attention.

The Chair: Mr. Oliphant, then Mr. Albas.

Mr. Robert Oliphant: I was going to say the same thing, that in my experience on committees we use this as our standard, as our base, and then as it needs to change, if we need to change, if the subcommittee is working well—and often this won't even go to the subcommittee. The chair and the clerk will advise us and we'll make a very quick decision at the beginning of a meeting.

We're expecting to have significant witnesses. We'll have other meetings with lengthy briefings. We're going to have lots of work to do, so I would like to take this as a start, then if the subcommittee on agenda is looking at various meetings they may recommend to the whole committee that we make specific changes for meetings, but I also think the chair's job is to manage our time to make it most effective.

(1345)

The Chair: Are there any further comments on this motion?

(Motion agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Fragiskatos.

Mr. Peter Fragiskatos: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

On documents distribution, “That the Clerk of the Committee be authorized to distribute documents to members of the Committee only when the documents are available in both official languages and that the witnesses be advised accordingly.”

(Motion agreed to)

The Chair: Mr. Fragiskatos.

Mr. Peter Fragiskatos: Working meals, “That the Clerk of the Committee be authorized to make the necessary arrangements to provide working meals for the Committee and its subcommittee”, so that I don't starve.

(Motion agreed to)

The Chair: Mr. Fragiskatos.

Mr. Peter Fragiskatos: Witnesses' expenses, “That, if requested, reasonable travel, accommodation and living expenses be reimbursed to witnesses not exceeding two representatives per organization, provided that, in exceptional circumstances, payment for more representatives be made at the discretion of the Chair.”

The Chair: Mr. Albas.

Mr. Dan Albas: Just on this point, Mr. Chair, I would hope, though, simply because there could be a very worldwide footprint on this committee, that we'd try to use Skype and some of the technology that taxpayers have so availed of us.

The Chair: Video conferencing, etc., sure. Thank you very much.

(Motion agreed to)

The Chair: Mr. Fragiskatos.

Mr. Peter Fragiskatos: Staff at in camera meeting, “That, unless otherwise ordered, each Committee member be allowed to have one staff member at an in camera meeting, and that one additional person from each House Officer's office be allowed to be present.”

(Motion agreed to)

The Chair: Mr. Fragiskatos.

Mr. Peter Fragiskatos: In camera meetings transcripts, “That one copy of the transcript of each in camera meeting be kept in the committee clerk's office for consultation by members of the Committee or by their staff.”

(Motion agreed to)

Mr. Peter Fragiskatos: Finally, notice of motions, and this one is fairly lengthy, Mr. Chair, “That a 48 hours' notice, interpreted as two nights, shall be required for any substantive motion to be considered by the committee unless the substantive motion relates directly to business then under consideration, provided that: (1) the notice be filed with the Clerk of the Committee no later than 4:00 p.m. from Monday to Friday; (2) the motion be distributed to members in both official languages by the Clerk on the same day the said notice was transmitted if it was received no later than the deadline hour; and (3) notices received after the deadline hour or on non-business days be deemed to have been received during the business day; and that when the Committee is travelling on official business, no substantive motions may be moved.”

The Chair: Mr. Fragiskatos, in the copy that I have of your motions, you left out the word “next”. I think you meant “during the next business day”.

Mr. Peter Fragiskatos: Oh, excuse me. Yes, “during the next business day”.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Albas.

Mr. Dan Albas: As a British Columbian I am always keenly aware of Pacific Standard Time versus Eastern Standard Time.

Hon. Geoff Regan: Naturally.

Mr. Dan Albas: I'm assuming, just so that we have clarity, that it's Eastern Standard Time, the four o'clock cutoff.

Mr. Peter Fragiskatos: That's my understanding, yes, unless there's a different view on that.

Mr. Dan Albas: Perhaps, if the Chair wills it, it can just be done as a friendly amendment, just because. I would love it to be Pacific Standard time, but...

The Chair: That's fine, so we'll consider it eastern time, the time here in Ottawa.

Mr. Peter Fragiskatos: It's a good compromise.

(Motion as amended agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Chair: Mr. Fragiskatos, that concludes your...

Mr. Peter Fragiskatos: Thank you very much.

The Chair: Thank you, or in Greek, efcharistó polý.

Mr. Doherty.

Mr. Todd Doherty: Mr. Chair, I have a motion I'd like to move forward with, “That all meetings other than those deemed in camera be televised.”

The Chair: I'm advised that, with agreement, you would advised that your motion might have “if possible” because there are times when there are two meetings at the same time. Only two meetings at a time can be televised. We can also do webcast, by the way, so regardless of whether or not we could televise, we could certainly do a webcast. What I'm proposing to you is that the motion be, “All meetings other than those deemed in camera be televised or webcast, if possible”, or sorry, “when possible”.

(1350)

Mr. Todd Doherty: Yes, “or webcast” because we can have both.

The Chair: So that it says, “televised or webcast when possible”, right? My understanding is, as far as I know, unless you've got a major problem with the Internet, it's always possible to webcast. The real question is that sometimes it's not possible to televise.

Madam Alleslev.

Ms. Leona Alleslev: Let's clarify that. Is it an either/or?

The Chair: It should be one or the other, I'm told, in terms of the way the place works, and therefore the priority—I think what you want to say, if you'll permit me, is, “All meetings, other than those deemed in camera, will be televised or, if that is not possible, then webcast.” Does that work?

Mr. Todd Doherty: Correct.

The Chair: Does that work for you?

Ms. Leona Alleslev: Yes.

The Chair: Is it agreed?

(Motion agreed to)

The Chair: Does that conclude our routine motions? I think so.

Ms. Alleslev, you wish to have the floor?

Ms. Leona Alleslev: If possible, Mr. Chair, I would like to put forward a motion that everyone should have received in advance, which states:

That the committee invite the Ambassador of Canada to the People's Republic of China, Mr. Dominic Barton, to appear in person before the committee for a two-hour televised meeting on Monday, January 27, 2020, and that Mr. Barton be given 20 minutes to update the committee on the state of relations between Canada and the People's Republic of China, and that the remaining time be allotted for questions and comments from members of the committee.

The Chair: I'm going to ask that, in the future, members make sure to submit any notices of motion to the clerk. I understand this was not submitted to the clerk, but I think members may be agreeable nevertheless to having this.

Mr. Oliphant.

Mr. Robert Oliphant: Ms. Alleslev, would you like to explain the motion or I can—

Ms. Leona Alleslev: To see if there's debate or do you want me to—

The Chair: It sounds like he would like you to make the case.

Mr. Robert Oliphant: You make the case and then I'll respond.

Ms. Leona Alleslev: Perfect.

In order for us to determine what exactly we want to study first and how we want this committee to prioritize the information that we want to study, I think we need to hear from Canada's representative, the diplomat and the person that is the point man on our relationship with China, as an opening story so that we can understand the status of where the relationship is on all aspects and to understand the government's direction to the ambassador on what the government strategy is toward China.

It's such a critical witness and it will help us, even before we get to our subcommittee meeting, to determine what precisely we want to study, to understand what the status is, what the lay of the land is from Canada's man on the ground, as they say, so that we can identify not only where the situation is at the moment in an informed and timely way but also what the government's direction is to the ambassador in terms of how our country is approaching China. That's why we're advocating for that to be the first witness, so that it can inform everything that we do and ask afterward, and why, because it is such a time-sensitive thing, that we would like it to be as soon as possible, i.e., when the House resumes next Monday.

Thank you.

[Français]

Le président suppléant (L'hon. Geoff Regan): Je vais donner la parole à M. Oliphant, et ensuite, à M. Bergeron.

[English]

Mr. Robert Oliphant: Thank you very much for this.

I want to state the position on this side of the table very clearly that we are absolutely in favour of calling Dominic Barton, the Ambassador of Canada to the People's Republic of China, as an early witness. We think it is critical to hear from Mr. Barton and we think that his insights will be helpful for the committee and important for us to do at a very early stage in this study.

However, we also recognize that we are not all at the same level of experience or knowledge with respect to the issues that we have been assigned to study by the House of Commons. We've been asked to look at, but not limit ourselves, to consular, economic, legal, security and the diplomatic relations we have with the People's Republic.

We think, to do that effectively and to ask the best questions—because asking good questions is part of our role, as members of Parliament—it would be more helpful if, in the first one or two meetings we had briefings from officials who could help lay the groundwork and bring everyone up to speed on the most recent issues that we have been facing.

They could be officials from Global Affairs Canada, from foreign affairs, which also includes International Trade. They could be officials from the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. They could be anybody we also decide would help us understand these issues clearly and more effectively to ask better questions.

As the Parliamentary Secretary to the former minister and now to the current minister, I've had tremendous opportunities to both travel to China, but also to have briefings from our officials. I have found that those briefings are valuable, they're insightful. I won't say that I agree with everything that I ever hear in a briefing—that's my nature—but they help me to do my job better. I think we have one of the best public services in the world. Our public servants are both effective as well as efficient and I think this committee would be well served to have those as our first meetings, and then our first witness could be Mr. Barton.

I am absolutely in agreement with the sentiment of the motion that he be our first witness we hear from, however I think as Parliament resumes it is absolutely important for us to all get on the same page, to have a variety of knowledge levels kind of equalized, and it's unfair that the government side could have more knowledge than the opposition side because we have that access to briefings.

This is the same as every parliamentary committee I have been engaged in that undertakes a study. When you undertake a study you ask your Library of Parliament analyst to prepare briefing materials, but you also ask officials to come in to present the topic. I think every committee I've been that has engaged in a significant study has done that kind of work.

Often, then, either the minister would come at either the beginning or the end of the study. I think in this case it would be an excellent idea to have our ambassador come, but we will be suggesting that to do that on Monday, January 27 is a week or two premature, to allow us to have two or three meetings to do that kind of work. Again, I think that we take this to the subcommittee on agenda, let them really wrestle with what kind of briefings would be effective and important to the committee and helpful, and then go from there to bring a recommendation on that to the committee at its next meeting and very quickly get going.

We recognize that this is an important study. We also recognize that the motion, as presented by Mr. O'Toole, did not put an end date in terms of when we're required to report. That was suggested by the NDP by Mr. Harris, that we actually have an end date. I think that because we don't have an end date, we are not urgently rushed to get this work done in the first week. Let's take our time, let's do it well.

I am also very aware of Mr. Bergeron's comments in his speech with respect to this motion where he was in agreement with the whole motion but had concern about portion (k) of the actual motion.

(1355)

To make sure that we don't go down a political theatre moment at that first meeting, it would be in the spirit of what Mr. Bergeron said that we would actually hear from experts and officials—not experts, our officials first—to give us that.

What I would suggest to the subcommittee, just to give you a heads-up, would be that we get an update on general diplomatic relations so that we are all aware of what has transpired in recent months, what has transpired with respect to the consular cases, not only Mr. Spavor and Mr. Kovrig but for any other consular cases that might be of concern to the committee to make sure we do it carefully, what the public security issues are that we should be aware of before we engage too much into our work because this is a matter of very extremely important national security as well, and the well being of specific Canadians in detention in China needs to be considered alongside the well being of Canadian businesses doing important agricultural business and other business in Canada and also the people-to-people relationships that we enjoy between Canada and China.

I'm saying we are in agreement with the motion. We think that the timeline of January 27th is appropriate, that we should have two or three briefings before we do that. Delay it a week or two is all I'm suggesting to allow the committee to do its work well and carefully and ask the best questions possible.

Thank you.

(1400)

[Français]

Le président suppléant (L'hon. Geoff Regan): Monsieur Bergeron, vous avez la parole.

M. Stéphane Bergeron: Monsieur le président, vous me permettrez de saluer M. Oliphant pour la qualité de l’interprétation de ma pensée qu’il a présentée il y a quelques instants.

Cela étant dit, effectivement, je trouve qu’il s’agit d’une résolution extrêmement pertinente, mais, je dirais, qui n’est peut-être pas appropriée à ce moment-ci. Je ne conteste d’aucune façon la pertinence de convoquer l’ambassadeur du Canada en Chine devant ce comité pour qu’il nous présente sa version ou son analyse de la situation.

Le fait est, cependant, qu’il faut reconnaître que, indépendamment des qualités intrinsèques de M. l’ambassadeur du Canada en Chine, le poste a été vacant pendant huit mois. Durant cette longue crise, le poste d’ambassadeur a été laissé vacant pendant huit mois par le gouvernement libéral. Peut-être avons-nous besoin de savoir pourquoi on a laissé ce poste vacant pendant huit mois avant de convoquer le titulaire du poste.

Je suis d’accord avec la proposition de M. Oliphant qui propose d’entendre des responsables du ministère des Affaires étrangères, qu’une analyse soit faite par la Bibliothèque du Parlement, et, surtout, que nous ayons une occasion de nous réunir en sous-comité. Nous venons de créer le sous-comité pour déterminer les questions d’ordre du jour.

Cette proposition, aussi pertinente soit-elle, m’apparaît un peu prématurée dans la mesure où il faut que nous puissions organiser les travaux de ce comité avant de nous lancer tête baissée dans une rencontre qui aurait été mal préparée avec l’ambassadeur du Canada à Beijing. Je pense qu’il est important de rencontrer l’ambassadeur du Canada à Beijing, mais qu’il est surtout très important d’être extrêmement bien préparés pour cette rencontre que nous aurons avec l’ambassadeur. Je ne crois pas que, dans un délai d’une semaine, nous soyons en mesure de faire un travail constructif pour cette rencontre avec l’ambassadeur du Canada en Chine.

Le président suppléant (L'hon. Geoff Regan): Merci beaucoup.

[English]

Ms. Alleslev.

Ms. Leona Alleslev: Thank you very much.

First and foremost, I would like to say that certainly on the official opposition side we are highly sensitive to the individuals who are wrongfully imprisoned in China. We would not do anything that would in any way put their release in peril. That is not our goal. We are sensitive to having the ambassador come and we understand the incredible work that's being done. We don't want to do anything to jeopardize that.

However, we do want to hear from the ambassador. He is the most senior official. He is an official of the government of Canada and he is Canada's voice. He isn't elected and he is not a minister. Therefore, he should be able to speak on all things. Regardless of the information that we have he should be able to give us the information that he gives around the world; certainly, in China, and to other people.

We are asking for a briefing from him so he can give us an overview of all aspects of the consular, diplomatic, trade, security, as it applies to his position. We want to have that sooner rather than later so that it can inform us when we do go into the deep dive on the other things. It is our intention that we have the opportunity to study all of those areas and we will hear from officials who will give us more information in each one of those areas. Without having a clear overview of the government's strategy towards the relationship with China which would come from the ambassador as well as a current update on the status of that relationship that is the responsibility of the ambassador we won't be able to know which officials to call and what information to do a deep dive on later.

Yes, there is a sense of urgency because the relationship is deteriorating and we as a committee would like to be able to do some homework and provide recommendations so that we can ensure that the relationship doesn't deteriorate anymore and that we are able to protect both national security interests, economic interests, and the diplomatic interests of Canada.

Thank you.

(1405)

The Chair: Ms. Blaney.

Ms. Rachel Blaney: Thank you for this very interesting conversation on something that is incredibly important very urgent; I agree with that.

Having the point person here talking to the committee is really key in moving forward.

I'm curious. If there's a lot of briefing information that needs to be given, with this sense of urgency is there not a reason why some of that work can't be done quickly, this week even, so that we can move forward. Again, urgency is key here. I don't think that when this motion came to the House that anybody would have said that this is something we can take a lot of time learning. We need to get on point.

I'm very supportive of this motion. I think we need the ambassador here as the point person, not the point man, necessarily, to update us. I think a lot of us would appreciate the briefing material as soon as possible so that we can get up to speed.

The Chair: Mr. Fragiskatos.

Mr. Peter Fragiskatos: No one around the table, certainly not on this side, is disagreeing with the need to bring the ambassador so he can shed light on the situation so we can ask questions. There is an obligation for this. Granted, this point has been made, but I speak individually here as a member, I feel much more comfortable questioning the ambassador after a briefing so that the proper foundation can be established. We can then talk to our officials about what is going on and understand more about all of those issues.

To the point that Ms. Blaney just raised I think that our officials also need time to adequately prepare as well. Granted, they are working on the issue and have been for some time but let's establish an order of operations here that make sense. Immediately leading with the ambassador is putting the cart before the horse, quite frankly, Mr. Chair.

The Chair: Mr. Doherty.

Mr. Todd Doherty: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I want to start off by saying that I really appreciate Mr. Oliphant's comments. Having spent over a decade working in China, I know the nuances and the sensitivities around certain issues.

I do want to remind us, or perhaps enter this into the conversation, that any time we were going to go in-country, do work within the provinces in the country of China, we were briefed, as officials of Canada by the most senior official on the ground. It would behoove this committee to start with the most senior official on the ground who is the most familiar with all the geopolitical sensitivities that we have and who informs the other officials.

As we move forward throughout this committee, it is going to be very important that we have that information in advance of our questioning other officials so that we understand the sensitivities and the security issues that may arise from our line of questioning. That can only come from the ambassador. It is very important that we start this committee off on the right foot, which would be bringing the most senior official here. It's no different from any other time when we do business with China when we are briefed by the most senior official on the ground so that we understand our work as we move forward.

To Mr. Bergeron's comments, this will then form our agenda as we move forward into a subcommittee because then, as was mentioned earlier, in the spirit of cooperation or consensus we can agree on the areas of concern and on those we want to bring before this committee moving forward.

(1410)

The Chair: Mr. Barrett.

Mr. Michael Barrett (Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, CPC): Thanks, Mr. Chair.

I'm in violent agreement with my colleague, Mr. Doherty. However, I appreciate the comments of Mr. Oliphant and Mr. Bergeron and Ms. Blaney.

That being said, I do believe that Canadians expect to hear from that ambassador. That's why we've started laying the groundwork for televised meetings. The committee has been constituted, and we're here before the House resumes after the Christmas break. I believe we should hear from the ambassador next week.

However, to the points of my colleagues on having some briefings in advance, Ms. Blaney's point about having those briefings this week would satisfy all of the concerns that have been expressed so that we do act quickly and hear from our first witness, being the ambassador, next week, but in the meantime having the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs provide a briefing to the regular members of this committee this week, to have the national security advisor provide a briefing to regular members of the committee this week, then we would be well informed and have the full suite of information available to those departments that they represent, and the information they provide to the government would be available to the members of the committee. Then when we hear from our top official on this file, our ambassador, we'd have all of that information.

The concerns will have been satisfied because members of Parliament are seized with this issue. They've been engaged. They have done work, and I'm confident with the level of commitment colleagues here have given to this issue that they are prepared to do the work and to hear from those officials as soon as possible so that we can get down to the work the House has instructed us to do because that's what Canadians expect.

I don't think that it needs to be one or the other. In fact, we can do both. We can hear from those officials, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and the national security advisor this week, provided they are in-country. I know that the ambassador has corresponded with Ms. Alleslev and said he is eager to appear, as Canadians are eager to hear from him and the regular members of this committee would be eager to ask questions of him following his testimony.

The Chair: Mr. Albas.

Mr. Dan Albas: Mr. Barrett has struck a couple of different ideas with me.

First of all, I'd like to address Mr. Oliphant's key point, that some parliamentarians are disadvantaged because they don't have access to the government, such as government members or parliamentary secretaries. There is an imbalance.

That being said, that's why parliamentary committees are separate from government. We have analysts, who I'm sure for members who miraculously cannot find the time after being named to this committee—I've already taken out a few different books so that I can at least have a cursory understanding of all the different issues. I read them and, any of the media that are here today, many of their columns, that are informing of what the issues are, and I think I can find questions, but if not, if members feel disadvantaged and don't feel that they'll have questions at the start of this committee's work, the Library of Parliament analysts will be able to supply them with good material that will help us to kind of get a good sense of whether or not—members opposite have not moved to amend because they agree that the ambassador is important and, from my understanding, the ambassador has actually shown interest in coming to the committee once it's ratified by members, but it's the dates that are in question, and then this power imbalance, this information power imbalance I think, Mr. Oliphant, seems to be the issue.

Perhaps what we can do is have a three-hour meeting next Monday. We'll do an hour with what you mentioned, the national security advisor, the acting one, as well as the deputy minister of foreign affairs and trade. We'll start from there for the first hour, then we'll have the ambassador. We also have to bear in mind that the ambassador may have something come up that he needs to respond to. It seems that he indicated that in late January he would be willing to come forward.

Let's start working on this. I'm fine to manage my workload and to engage the Library of Parliament so that I can be informed and can ask good questions of Mr. Barton.

If you actually look at the original motions presented to the House that it agreed with, from time to time we may call upon certain officials. That means that, perhaps at another juncture, we may have more questions because of what we've heard from various experts within Canada or outside.

This is not going to be a one-time process. It doesn't necessarily have to be. My friend from the Bloc had mentioned earlier about the subcommittee, that the process now is it is supposed to handle agenda. I totally understand where he is at, but we're the client. Right? We've hired the subcommittee, like a contractor, to handle certain things, but if we want a meeting to start with, just to open up the conversation and then let the members from that point start planning witnesses and the order of things, we can do that. I don't find flaw with what he said; I'm just pointing out that you can also look at it from another perspective. I'm hopeful that members will be amenable to it, that perhaps a motion can be added where we also have the acting national security advisor and the deputy minister on the 27th. To me, that would be a good way we can all get started.

I trust that members will do their homework and I will do mine.

(1415)

The Chair: Mr. Albas's comments remind me that, before we finish today, we should try, if we can, to deal with questions like the time of meetings, a usual meeting time and the frequency of meetings.

Mr. Oliphant.

Mr. Robert Oliphant: Thank you.

I just repeat that there is absolutely no disagreement on this side that the first external witness be the Ambassador of Canada to China.

My experience may be different from others. I recently travelled to three countries in Africa last week and immediately upon arrival in each of those countries I had very good briefings by the heads of mission in those countries. Absolutely, we trust our heads of mission—ambassadors, high commissioners, chargés d'affaires—to do the work of briefing us on the ground.

However, before I left I had extensive briefings from departmental officials, the desks in Global Affairs Canada, that brought up issues of consular affairs, international trade, investment, the issues I would be encountering so that I could have an effective trip on behalf of the people of Canada. I think that is the normal process that we engage in. We get written materials and we have briefings from officials and then we have the heads of our missions do that work.

In a moment I am going to be presenting an amendment to the motion, but before I do that I want to take us back to the 40th Parliament and this is not the first time we have had a special committee established by the House on an international issue. The last time in the 40th Parliament was an international committee that was established to look at our mission in Afghanistan.

With all due respect to Ms. Blaney, we don't have Jack Harris here. His experience on that special committee—which lasted almost three years and had a number of reports—I think would be invaluable to our agenda committee. I think his experience on that committee—and I was serving with him on another committee at the same time—and his understanding of the briefings, the role of expert witnesses and the role of others who had differing opinions would be very helpful for us to consider at the agenda committee.

We've just established the agenda subcommittee. I think we should use it. It needs to make some recommendations with respect to timing of our meetings, the number of meetings we have per week. Remember, this is not a standing committee that follows the normal slots of (a), (b), (c) and (d) committees. We have to request our officials to appear. We have an ambassador who is in China. We want him to be here as soon as possible and we want to make the most effective use of his time and our time. This is something that we need to settle into.

Parliament is just resuming next week. Most of us have other committee responsibilities. We want to get all of that fed into the agenda subcommittee so that every member can find a way into this committee to be most effective and a meeting time, meeting frequency are practical ways of working that I think would be best dealt with at a subcommittee on agenda. I just think it is an easier place than doing it here, in this room.

I am going to suggest an amendment to Ms. Alleslev's motion and the first two lines are the same. However, strike the words "on Monday, January 27, 2020", and then add at the end so that the motion will be reading as such, "that the committee invite the Ambassador of Canada to the People's Republic of China, Mr. Dominic Barton, to appear in person before the committee for a two-hour televised meeting; that Mr. Barton be given 20 minutes to update the committee on the state of relations between Canada and the People's Republic of China; and that the remaining time be allotted for questions and comments from members of the committee; and that this meeting happen as soon as possible after the subcommittee has met and the full committee has appropriately been briefed by officials as determined by the committee, and subject to the scheduling by the clerk of the committee”.

If I can just speak to that motion,I think we are keeping the spirit of Ms. Alleslev's motion to make sure we have as immediate a meeting with Mr. Barton as possible, that we do it subject obviously to scheduling, but also subject to the work of the subcommittee getting together, determining and recommending to the committee what briefings would be appropriate, and to do that within the next couple of weeks, that's all.

(1420)

We are talking about a couple of weeks to make sure that we are organized. That's what I have to say.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Oliphant.

We are now discussing the proposed amendment.

Ms. Zann, Ms. Alleslev and then Mr. Doherty.

Ms. Lenore Zann: Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here and to meet everybody. As a new member of Parliament I want to say one reason I'm happy to be on this committee is that, first and forefront in my mind and in many of my constituents' minds is the safety of the two Canadians who are detained in China. I think we need to not let go of the reason we're here and why we're talking about these very important issues.

I do want to hear from the ambassador. I also want to hear from experts. I'm perfectly willing to read as much information as anybody wants to send us, but I also want to see them in person and be able to ask questions in person.

I think that time is of the essence—I agree with everybody here on that—but having watched on television what can happen in these committees over the last year or so, I do not want to see this devolve into and become a partisan, emptyrhetoric fight among political parties over political points.

On that note, I would like to say that, yes, we need to see the ambassador. When that ambassador can come to see is going to be up to all of us—it is a democracy, after all. However, I'm very concerned and I do not want to see this become a political free-for-all. It's important that we keep those two Canadians' safety first and foremost in our minds as we go about our deliberations.

Thank you.

(1425)

The Chair: Ms. Alleslev, then Mr. Albas is after Mr. Doherty.

Ms. Leona Alleslev: My fear is that this sounds like an opportunity to put it further into the future and to not, maybe, address the sense of urgency that we have been trying to achieve with the motion. I'm wondering how we might be able to ensure that there's a sense of urgency, not, “As soon as possible when the subcommittee meets, and we've met with other people, and, and, and, and...”, which could sound like sometime in the next century.

Obviously we want this to happen sooner rather than later. Obviously we have somewhat of a disagreement on who should give us an overview first before taking a deep dive into each of the officials' areas of expertise. We understand the amendment you're putting forward, and we do want, obviously, the subcommittee able to do its work. How can we bound this so that it happens, I would say, in no less than a month, to ensure that we keep the sense of urgency on it? Perhaps there's another way of arriving at a point where we could do it even more quickly than that.

The Chair: Mr. Doherty.

Mr. Todd Doherty: Thank you, Mr. Chair—

Mr. Robert Oliphant: May I just ask a point of order?

The Chair: Yes, a point of order.

Mr. Robert Oliphant: It seems to me there was a suggestion, but I didn't hear a subamendment. I'm just wondering whether there was a subamendment or not. That may be a way for us to get out of this quickly. If there were a subamendment coming from the suggested date, I think that would be acceptable. I have said two weeks. You said up to a month. I just think we may be able to get out of this very quickly if there were a subamendment.

The Chair: Mr. Doherty, do you mind if I go back to Ms. Alleslev?

Mr. Todd Doherty: Perhaps I have some information that might be pertinent to the committee, and perhaps a subamendment might come out of that. It is being reported that Ambassador Barton is indeed in Winnipeg at the cabinet retreat currently, with your colleagues, so he is in Canada. We are here to work.

To Lenore, to your comment, first and foremost we must always be moving forward with that, the lives of Mr. Spavor and Mr. Kovrig—we have to. Time is of the essence, which is why we are saying and we put forward the motion that we speak to the most senior official who is informing our government, and the rest of the officials, on the sensitivities and the situation analysis that's on the ground. If he is indeed in Canada—

Mr. Robert Oliphant: He's not. He went back to China this morning.

Mr. Todd Doherty: Well, I would offer this, that I think, again, we should confirm that. We should move to try to get Ambassador Barton at the earliest convenience.

The Chair: Can I allow Ms. Alleslev to respond to Mr. Oliphant?

Ms. Leona Alleslev: Mr. Albas can do two things at once here.

Mr. Dan Albas: Okay.

Thank you.

Mr. Chair, I think I understand where members are coming from.

Perhaps a subamendment would be helpful in this case and I hope that it is:

That the subcommittee meet no later than January 24 at the call of the chair.

The committee can meet this week; we could probably just put that in. I think you could canvas the members. As long as the subcommittee happens this week then we can issue a report and then see that the business of the committee starts as soon as possible.

I will say, again, Mr. Chair, that people expect us to work together. That also means productively.

Let's not get tangled up in knots. Let's get the steering committee to meet this week and have the ambassador no later than February 7.

To me that is a good way to have things presented.

(1430)

Mr. Robert Oliphant: Mr. Chair, as a point or order, could I ask for a temporary suspension of the meeting so that we can discuss this subamendment to my amendment.

The Chair: The meeting is suspended.

(1445)

The Chair: Order.

Colleagues, the public often doesn't understand especially when cameras are no on or we're not in session perhaps, how members do operate in collaborative fashion and work things out. It can't always be done, but sometimes it can.

In that spirit, Ms. Alleslev, over to you.

(1450)

Ms. Leona Alleslev: Thank you very much.

Thank you to all of our colleagues. Sometimes having a logistics background is probably the most difficult part of doing some of these things.

Could I seek unanimous consent to withdraw the motion, the amendment to the motion and the subamendment to the motion so that I might present a new motion?

The Chair: Is it agreed?

Some hon. member: Agreed.

(Motion, amendment to the motion and subamendment withdrawnSee minutes of the proceedings)

Ms. Leona Alleslev: Okay, if I might, the new motion would read:

That the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure meet as soon as possible, and that the committee be briefed by officials prior to the appearance of the Ambassador of Canada to the People's Republic of China, and that the committee invite the Ambassador of Canada to the People's Republic of China, Mr. Dominic Barton, to appear in person before the committee for a two-hour televised meeting no later than February 7, 2020, and that Mr. Barton be given 20 minutes to update the committee on the state of relations between Canada and the People's Republic of China, and that the remaining time be allotted for questions and comments from the members of the committee.

The Chair: Is it agreed?

(Motion agreed to; See minutes of proceedings)

The Chair: It is agreed.

Ms. Leona Alleslev: Thank you very much, guys.

Hon. Geoff Regan: Mr. Albas.

Mr. Dan Albas: Mr. Chair, it is very important to note that there are three members from British Columbia today who made this possible.

The Chair: Is that because there isn't 250 cm of snow in Vancouver?

Mr. Dan Albas: That's just how we do things.

The Chair: Absolutely.

We need to deal with the issue of the usual meeting time and the frequency of meetings.

I am advised that for the time—and a special committee has priority on rooms and being televised—we can meet any time we want, just to be clear, but they only have priority on these times—from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays, 8:45 a.m. to 10:45 on Fridays, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday.

[Français]

Je vais répéter ce que j’ai dit en français. Le comité peut se réunir quand il le veut, mais nous aurons la priorité pour être télévisés et pour les salles de réunion aux jours et aux heures suivants: les lundis de 11 heures à 13 heures, les vendredis de 8 h 45 à 10 h 45, et du lundi au jeudi de 17 h 30 à 19 h 30. Quelle est la préférence du comité?

[English]

Mr. Fragiskatos and then Ms. Alleslev.

Mr. Peter Fragiskatos: Mr. Chair, this is important because we want to know when we'll be working, but we don't have a vice-chair. We do have a vice-chair but one of our vice-chairs is not here. Mr. Harris is not here and we also are lacking Mr. Warkentin. With that in mind, this issue is probably best left to the subcommittee especially since we don't know the vice-chair's schedules.

The Chair: Ms. Alleslev.

Ms. Leona Alleslev: It is a good idea for the subcommittee to investigate this as well, but perhaps, just so we can all weigh in because we do need all our committee members to weigh in on this, we, on the official opposition side, were thinking maybe we would meet one day a week but instead of for only two hours, perhaps we could consider three hours. Our thought was maybe maybe Monday mornings from 10 until 1, if that were a possibility. Then we are able to still have a sense of urgency, get a fair amount of work done and still get together and make progress on that.

That's sort of what we were thinking but we put it perhaps to the subcommittee to investigate further.

(1455)

The Chair: Perhaps we'll have Sunday brunches instead of Sunday suppers—at home, that is.

Ms. Blaney.

Ms. Rachel Blaney: I agree that this should go to the subcommittee and recognize there are two vice-chairs that are not here and that's an important part.

The only thing that would be helpful to add is that the 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the three hours, would probably work for Mr. Harris, who will be representing the New Democrats. However, one of the questions I would have is around televised access for the three hours. I hope the subcommittee is given that important information.

The Chair: Maybe I could answer the question about the television before we go on to the next speaker, who is Mr. Oliphant.

I indicated previously that we have priority over rooms and television from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays. I presume that it is not difficult to make—if the committee were to decide to make that 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., there's no other committees meeting then, so it's not a problem. That answers your question I think.

Mr. Oliphant.

Mr. Robert Oliphant: I believe there's been some discussion among the whips about this. I think it should go to the subcommittee.

However, we'll just signal that we are in agreement with Mondays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., we think that's a good solution, but subject to the two vice-chairs being consulted. We're going to be meeting as soon as possible as a subcommittee anyway, so it will be good, but we are generally in favour of that, subject to their approval.

The Chair: Thank you. That's useful.

I have Mr. Barrett.

[Français]

Ensuite, M. Bergeron aura la parole.

[English]

Mr. Michael Barrett: Mr. Chair, as we lay the markers down for when we're going to be having these meetings and the projected order of business for the committee, I think it's important to note that when we talk about as soon as possible it means different things to different people. We've rightly identified that the work of this committee is urgent because we have Canadians illegally jailed in China. It's very important that we understand that today's meeting was the last day that this committee was allowed to have its first meeting, as directed by the House. We give ourselves a timeline, time goes by quickly and we find that we've used it all up and as soon as possible was actually the last possible allowable time to make it happen.

It's also important to note that we have farmers across Canada who have lost over a billion dollars because of the trade actions China has taken specifically dealing with canola. I think it's really important that we're cognizant of that and mindful of all of the different areas, and there are many more, that this relationship between Canada and China has affected, why it's so important that the important work of this committee is done expeditiously and that we give ourselves time-bound guidelines in directing our work.

It is vital to so many parts of our federation and its citizens that we act quickly, so I ask all members to be mindful of that when we say things like “as soon as possible.” The spirit or intent of that I believe is good, but I think it's important that we act on that and truly do it as soon as possible, because when we just do it at the last date that is allowable we might not be fulfilling the spirit of the obligation that we have.

Thank you.

The Chair: Mr. Oliphant and I think I have Mr. Albas afterward—no.

[Français]

Je m’excuse. Monsieur Bergeron, vous êtes le prochain.

M. Stéphane Bergeron: Monsieur le président, je comprends que notre collègue vient de revenir sur la motion que nous venons d’adopter, mais je croyais que nous étions en train d’essayer d’identifier les moments les plus appropriés pour mes collègues de ce comité.

J’aimerais simplement poser une question. Notre collègue, en présentant la proposition des conservateurs de se réunir de 10 heures à 13 heures le lundi, nous a dit que les conservateurs pensaient qu’il était mieux de se réunir une fois plutôt que deux fois et trois heures plutôt que deux heures. Il me semble que deux fois deux heures, c’est plus qu’une fois trois heures. Alors, j’aimerais qu’on m’explique pourquoi on préfère une fois trois heures plutôt que deux fois deux heures. C’est ma première question.

Ma deuxième question concerne le as soon as possible. Permettez-moi de partager avec vous une expérience antérieure vécue justement avec des représentants chinois. C’était à l’époque où je siégeais à la Chambre des communes lors d’un mandat précédant, il y a quelques années. Nous étions en contact, entre autres, avec des gens de la représentation de Taiwan. Ces derniers nous disaient qu’ils allaient ouvrir un bureau à Montréal bientôt. La notion de « bientôt » pour un pays plusieurs fois millénaire n’a pas la même signification que pour un pays qui a à peine 400 ans d’existence. Évidemment, à ma connaissance, le bureau n’est toujours pas ouvert aujourd’hui à Montréal.

Je pense donc que le point est tout à fait pertinent. Lorsque nous disons as soon as possible, ou, le « le plus rapidement possible », il faut comprendre qu’il y a vraiment un sentiment d’urgence. Il y a non seulement les intérêts économiques du Canada et du Québec qui sont en cause, mais il y a également la vie d’au moins deux citoyens canadiens qui est en cause. Il faut donc effectivement procéder avec diligence. Nous avons fixé une date limite pour la rencontre avec l’ambassadeur, soit le 7 février au plus tard. Je crois comprendre que l’ambassadeur sera en Amérique du Nord le 28 janvier prochain, ce qui fait en sorte qu’il pourrait se joindre à nous dans les jours suivants, peut-être le 29 janvier ou le 30 janvier.

Cependant, le 29 ou le 30 janvier, cela ne tombe pas un lundi entre 10 heures et 13 heures. Alors, je reviens à ma question: pourquoi une fois trois heures plutôt que deux fois deux heures? Sincèrement, je préfère deux fois deux heures. Je pense que nous allons abattre davantage de travail en deux fois deux heures qu’en une fois trois heures.

(1500)

[English]

The Chair: Okay.

[Français]

Je vais maintenant donner la parole à M. Oliphant. Si quelqu’un veut répondre aux questions de M. Bergeron, je vais lui donner l’occasion de le faire, mais c’est maintenant au tour de M. Oliphant.

[English]

After that is Mr. Albas.

Mr. Robert Oliphant: I think it would be very appropriate for us to take this discussion now into the subcommittee. I think everybody will have the opportunity to talk about two twos, one threes, three fives, two nines, I don't know what, but I think we can have a discussion there when people know their committee responsibilities and the other things that are on people's minds. I actually think it's not going to be productive for us to continue at this time.

We've signalled that we think it's a good option. I'm happy to listen to the other parties to try to find collaboration and in the spirit of collaboration to find times that work. I just think it would be most helpful if we now take that discussion into that venue and look at the calendar and look at those kinds of things. The subcommittee should look at a working plan.

Maybe we start with three-hour meetings and then move to five evenings in a row. I chaired the special committee on assisted dying, we had to meet every evening. We took every slot from 5:30 to 9:00 most days to get that work done.

I think that will be something we just need to discuss.

With respect to bientôt, or the way we're working, on behalf of our side I just want to thank the clerk for putting this meeting together. The parties got you the names at the last minute. One party was late. I think we were pretty good, but parties got the names to you late. You've had logistics to do. Putting a special committee together is unusual and I want to thank you.

I know the analysts have already been anticipating our motion, getting work done.

I also want to say two things. I think we should acknowledge, in this room, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly in Newfoundland and in St. John's and other parts on the eastern side. Jack Harris is not with us today. I think that is a reality of life that we have to be sensitive to and he was very gracious by saying.... I talked to him about the possibility of our rescheduling because of that, and it would take the House consent, but that is a reality.

The other extreme reality that many of us have faced in our own ridings is the death of 57 Canadians who died in Tehran. While this committee is important, and our relationship with China is important, some of us have been very preoccupied with that. I have a high school mourning a death in my riding, I have families mourning in my riding and that has occupied many of us. So we are working on this issue but we don't let the other issues go because our world is complex, our world is difficult, people's lives are affected by these things. I think having this meeting is not late, it's timely, and I think the House is managing us well and we'll do our part. I think I speak for every member of this committee who will help the clerk and the analyst do your work so you can help us do our work and we're getting debate done, so thank you very much.

(1505)

The Chair: Mr. Oliphant, I think in respect of your comments in relation to the clerk and the analysts, and in relation to your concern in relation to the people who were the victims of flight 752 and their families, I am sure all members would join in that view, and I am seeing agreement on that.

Now I have Mr. Doherty.

Sorry, Mr. Albas. His name was already crossed off a little earlier. Okay.

Mr. Dan Albas: Thank you, Mr. Chair. All of us CPC people look alike, I guess.

Voices: Oh, oh!

Mr. Dan Albas: I would just like to focus a little bit on two things. First of all, the member from the Bloc Québécois had specifically asked about the subcommittee and whether or not it should be deciding on our times. I do think that discussion should be at the subcommittee. I do think that if we do decide to go with a 10:00-1:00 p.m. slot, somehow, on the subcommittee, I just want to give my opinion. The 10 o'clock till one o'clock, I think, will work. Being from British Columbia, I travel a long distance to be here. I will be here for those. I think it's a good step for the committee.

Second, though, is that if there are exceptional requirements for further meetings at further times, just due to the nature of some of the people we will be working with, in order to make we can accommodate—and again, it's written in the motion—many of the public figures who may need to have different times, I'm prepared to work. Parliament, I think, is prepared to work. I'd like to see that.

I did note today, Mr. Chair, that we were able to come with some unanimous support for my colleague's motion. I think that's a good first step, but I will say this—and again, the member from Quebec mentioned that the ambassador will be in North America, or as I mentioned earlier he would be in Houston on January 28—if the ambassador can be making public comments in Houston, or if he's talking and doing his job in North America on January 28, to me there's no reason that the ambassador cannot be here within a relative period of time either before or after.

I don't think that we should, as Mr. Barrett earlier said, wait till the very last date. There are a number of issues that are very pertinent, that are time-sensitive. The ambassador, whom I have interviewed at committee and have found that he's very capable of dealing with parliamentarians, I don't believe he'll require a lot of time to be briefed up. I think he'll be able to come and be able to give us answers.

I do want to push the government to try to make that sooner rather than later, for the good of this committee and for this Parliament's work. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Doherty.

Mr. Todd Doherty: Mr. Chair, I was going to echo the comments along the lines of Mr. Albas's, and then bring up what Mr. Bergeron mentioned. If the ambassador is going to be back in North America, in Houston, there's no reason that he could not be appearing before this committee. There are two Canadians who are being detained. To our colleague across the floor, Lenore's comments, we should be moving forward, always, with them. We have farmers who can't wait. They've suffered significant losses due to the trade action from this government. As a committee, we should be moving forward, trying to have the ambassador here at his earliest convenience.

The Chair: Ms. Alleslev.

(1510)

Ms. Leona Alleslev: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I did want to just echo what Mr. Oliphant said about those who so tragically lost their lives. Unfortunately, my riding was one that was quite significantly hit, and it has really had a substantive impact. I want to send out, I know, on behalf of all of us, if I might, my condolences to everyone who has suffered as a result of this tragedy.

Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms. Alleslev.

[Français]

Monsieur Bergeron, vous avez la parole.

M. Stéphane Bergeron: À titre de suggestion, peut-être devrions-nous, à la fin des travaux de ce comité, observer une minute de silence.

Le président suppléant (L'hon. Geoff Regan): Nous pourrions peut-être observer une minute de silence maintenant.

[On observe un moment de silence.]

[English]

Colleagues, I've asked the clerk to reach out to the members of the subcommittee to work out the time as soon as possible for its first meeting. I hope that can take place very soon.

Is there anything further?

Seeing none, I thank the committee for its work today.

This meeting is adjourned.

DRAFT Remarks for Marta Morgan Deputy Minister, Global Affairs Canada

For the Special Committee on Canada China Relations
January 30, 2020
(1570 Words; Approx. 10 minutes)

Thank you Chair, Members of the Committee,

My name is Marta Morgan.  I am Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs at Global Affairs Canada.

I am joined by my colleagues: Paul Thoppil, Assistant Deputy Minister for Asia Pacific and Cindy Termorshuizen, Director General of International Security Policy.

We are grateful for the opportunity to give you some background on China and Canada’s relations with it.

Canada’s relations with China are complex, with both opportunities and challenges.

Now more than ever, Canadians are asking questions about what China’s economic growth and governance model means for their future prosperity, their security and Canada’s place in the world. 

The Committee is taking on important work at a crucial time.  A common understanding of where the People’s Republic of China is going, and how it touches Canada’s national interests will make our policy better.

The Committee will decide what issues to examine in closer detail, and will have the opportunity to hear a wide variety of views from experts and stakeholders.  

Ambassador Dominic Barton, whom you will meet next week, will provide an excellent view from the ground in Beijing.

The Government of Canada’s engagement with China is, or at least has been, very broad.  There are few government departments or agencies that do not have some form of relationship with their Chinese counterparts, or whose mandate is not significantly impacted by China.

Global Affairs Canada plays a lead role in coordinating the Government of Canada approach to China, ensuring coherence in our relations.

I am here to provide some broad context that you may wish to consider as you set your agenda.

For many years, citizens of Canada and the People’s Republic of China have built bridges between our countries.  While October 2020 will mark 50 years since we established diplomatic ties, many years before that Canadian missionaries helped found leading medical schools in China; and Canada traded wheat to stave off famine across China in the early days of the People’s Republic.

It is remarkable that Canada and Canadians, despite our ideological differences, reached out across the Pacific to support the people of China even without an embassy to support them.  With the founding of diplomatic relations, Canada launched a broad official relationship, including a bilateral aid program that wound down in 2013.

Through our aid and engagement, Canada supported China’s modernization and opening up: Canadians made substantial contributions to reform in the non-profit, legal, education and agricultural systems over the decades.

For example, Canadian programming helped Chinese farmers adapt to the WTO as China completed its accession process. 

Reform was critical to China’s success in alleviating poverty.  According to the World Bank, China has lifted 850 million people out poverty.  China's poverty rate fell from 88 percent in 1981 to 0.7 percent in 2015. In 2018 China’s GDP was 174 times the size of that in 1952, and per capita annual income had surpassed $10,000 USD. 

As China’s economy opened and grew, Canadian trade and investment in China did as well. 

China is now Canada’s third-largest trading partner, after the US and the EU.   While still only accounting for roughly 5% of Canadian exports, Canada’s trade with China has grown rapidly in recent years.

In 2018, two-way merchandise trade between Canada and China reached $103.2 billion, including $27.6 billion in Canadian exports and $75.6 billion in imports.

As my colleague, Steve Verheul, will explain in the next session, Canadian exports to China fell in 2019.  Canada’s exports to China are largely commodities with direct oversight of the Chinese government.  As we have seen, exports of Canadian canola and meat can be vulnerable to actions by the Chinese government that contravene international rules and norms.

But our commercial relations with China have grown not only in exchange of goods, but more broadly.  In 2018, services exports to China were valued at $7.4 billion, while imports from China were valued at $2.8 billion:  a 6.1 percent year on year increase in two-way services trade.  

China is Canada’s third largest source of tourists, with 757,205 visitors in 2018.

China is also the second largest source of international students to Canada (after India), representing approximately 25 percent of all international students. There were more than 140,000 Chinese students studying in Canada for six months or more in 2018.

But as China’s market grew, so did competition for access to it.  And China itself has become more competitive.  China’s economy now accounts for nearly one third of global growth each year.  Even at modest rates of 6% growth, China adds the equivalent of an Australia to its economy every year.

China has an enormous potential to contribute to resolving common global challenges.  Indeed, when it comes to global problems such as climate change and health, China by virtue of its population and economic weight will continue to play a significant role in tackling collective problems.

And as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and increasingly important economic and military power, China’s influence on Canada’s international security priorities cannot be ignored.

-------

On December 10th, 2019, parliament passed the motion establishing this Special Committee to examine all aspects of the Canada-China relationship.  December 10th is also international Human Rights day.  And December 10th is also the day in 2018 when Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were detained arbitrarily by authorities of the People’s Republic of China.

December 10th, 2018 is a day that fundamentally changed Canada’s outlook on its relations with China. 

Canada and many of our partners were shocked and saddened by the detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. 

We condemn arbitrary detentions and sentencing.    Coercive practices, especially those that target innocent individuals for political ends, undermine the norms and principles that are the foundation of international relations. 

International partners have also condemned the detention and the practice of “residential surveillance at a designated location” that falls outside of any recognized judicial process for many detained in China. 

We have also raised concern about the failure to recognize the residual immunities of Michael Kovrig, a colleague and friend for many in Global Affairs Canada.

These detentions reflect broader features of China’s governance that pose challenges to human rights and the rule of law:

The Government of Canada has not shied away from our disagreements with the Government of the People’s Republic. 

We have called for the immediate release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor as well as clemency for Robert Schellenberg  and all death penalty cases at every opportunity.

And as an absolute priority for the Government, Canadian officials have worked tirelessly to advocate for these cases, bilaterally and multilaterally, while remaining consistent in our policy and approach to bilateral relations with China.  

We have consistently raised our deep concerns for the restrictions on freedoms and rights of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities bilaterally and in multilateral forums such as the Human Rights Council.

We have called for Chinese authorities to respect the religious freedom of all Chinese citizens in Xinjiang and Tibet, and of whatever faith, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or Falun Gong, and to stop efforts to silence human rights defenders.

We have advocated for Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international forums where there is a global imperative, including in the World Health Organization.

And on all these issues, Canada is not alone. 

Likeminded partners have added their voices to calls for release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and an end to arbitrary detention.  

Canada enjoys the good company of many democratic nations in our calls for an end to human rights abuses in China. 

In the face of these challenges, however, we must also recognize our deep people-to-people ties, including the nearly 2 million Canadians of Chinese descent.  Exchanges take place not just between governments, but between companies, students, tourists, artists and athletes.

Governments play a facilitating role in these people to people exchanges, which are an important foundation for progress.

Looking forward, the relations with China will continue to be complex, and Canada will need to chart a path that allows us to protect Canada’s interests, to work with China on issues of mutual benefit and to continue to press for justice and human rights.

As China continues to grow and becomes the world’s largest economy, as its production moves of the value chain of goods and services, Canadian companies will benefit.

Global solutions to climate change, financial systems, or pandemics need to harness China’s participation.  Multilateral cooperation begins with solid bilateral relations.

Canada needs to enhance our understanding of China – not only to adapt to the opportunities it presents, but to better defend the core values of democracy, human rights and freedoms that Canadians enjoy at home and abroad.

This can only happen, I believe, with enhanced people-to-people ties and ongoing engagement.

All of which starts with the return of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor and clemency for Robert Schellenberg.

The work of the Committee presents an important opportunity to review all aspects of the Canada-China relationship and to chart a path forward that takes into account both risks and opportunities.

I wish you success in this important work, and will be pleased to take your questions.

Section B: Qs and As

Coronavirus Outbreak

Q: What is the number of Canadians registered in the area?

There are currently 240 Canadians in Hubei who have registered with the voluntary Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) service. However, as registration is voluntary, this is not a complete picture of Canadians in the region or in China.

Q: What is Canada doing to assist Canadians in affected areas?

An Interdepartmental Task Force led by the Public Health Agency of Canada and Global Affairs Canada (GAC) has been created to manage the situation, both domestically and abroad, with participation from other key departments such as CBSA, IRCC and DND.

The Task Force is communicating daily with all partners involved, including Canadian missions in affected areas, to assess the needs of Canadians and provide health advice and support.

Regular communications are maintained in Canada as well, with other federal departments and with provinces and territories.

Canadians in the area requiring consular assistance are encouraged to contact Global Affairs Canada through the Embassy in Beijing or the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa. Consular officials are on standby 24 hours a day 7 days a week to provide services to Canadians who require help.

We encourage all Canadians in the region to continue to register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service at travel.gc.ca/register. Our consular officials will be reaching out to registered Canadians to provide updates and information and to confirm their needs.

Q: Does Canada consider evacuating Canadians from China?

We are reviewing various options to assist Canadians in leaving Wuhan, China, including chartering aircrafts and using Canadian Armed Forces aircraft.

Given the tight restrictions placed on travel to and from the region by China as well as the necessary logistical considerations that must be made in regards to the health and safety of Canadians here in Canada, this is a complex process that will require time and effort.

Q: Has Canada offered any assistance to China?

Minister of Foreign Affairs Champagne wrote to his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi on January 27, to express Canada’s sympathy and offer Canada’s assistance. Global Affairs is currently exploring what form this assistance could take.

Q: Considering all the risks, wouldn’t you advise against travel to China?

Travel almost always entails some risk that is usually outweighed by the benefits.

Travel and exchange between Canada and China enriches the lives of individual travellers and benefits our countries.

The Government of Canada closely monitors the situation in China and other countries and provides advice to mitigate the risk.

At this time, our advice is to avoid all travel to Hubei, where the outbreak started and transportation and service restrictions are greatest – and to exercise a high degree of caution throughout the country.

Human Rights

Xinjiang

Q: How is Canada responding to the human rights crisis in Xinjiang?

We are deeply concerned by the credible reports of the mass detention, repressive surveillance, and family separation affecting Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, under the pretext of countering extremism, terrorism and separatism.

China's actions are counter to its international human rights obligations, as well as to the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

Canada urges Chinese authorities to release Uyghurs and other Muslims who have been detained arbitrarily based on their ethnicity and religion.

[REDACTED]

Canada, along with several other countries, has called on the Chinese government to allow the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN Special Procedures immediate, unfettered, meaningful access to Xinjiang.

Tibet

Q: How has Canada demonstrated support for Tibet and the human rights situation facing Tibetans?

Canada recognizes Tibet as an integral part of the People’s Republic of China but remains deeply concerned about the human rights situation affecting ethnic Tibetans in China.

Canada regularly calls for dialogue between the concerned parties so that the legitimate grievances in Tibet can be addressed.

Throughout the course of our bilateral interactions, Canada has consistently called on the Chinese government to respect their own laws, their international obligations and, above all, the fundamental freedoms of all Chinese citizens.

[REDACTED]

Hong Kong protests

Q: Given the situation in Hong Kong and reports of police brutality, how does Canada plan to support the people of Hong Kong and the 300,000 Canadians living in the city?

Canada urges all sides involved in the current crisis to exercise restraint, to refrain from violence and to engage in peaceful and inclusive dialogue.

Canada supports the right of peaceful protest and Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and freedoms under the Basic Law and the “One Country, Two Systems” framework.

Canada has a vested interest in Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity – the foundation of which is Hong Kong’s relative autonomy and basic freedoms.

Human rights (general)

Q: What is Canada doing to advocate for human rights in China?

While China’s economic growth has led to overall improvements in the standard of living for Chinese citizens, there has been a worrying decline in civil and political rights, as well as in freedom of religion or belief.

Canada is committed to constructive exchanges with China on human rights and we consistently raise concerns with China at the highest levels.

We will continue to call on China to uphold its international human rights obligations, including due process, and freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention.

Canada has consistently called on China to respect, protect and promote the freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of assembly and association, and freedom of religion or belief of all Chinese citizens, including Tibetan Buddhists, Christians, Uyghurs and Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang, and Falun Gong practitioners.

Magnitsky Sanctions

Q: Will Canada sanction officials responsible for human rights abuses in Hong Kong and mainland China?

Sanctions measures are an important component of Canada’s principled, but pragmatic approach to foreign policy. The decision to deploy sanctions is not one Canada takes lightly. Sanctions should be regarded as a coercive measure of last resort, a tool that we apply judiciously. So that when we do choose to impose sanctions, we send a strong and clear message.

Canada continues to address human rights issues with Chinese authorities at all levels.

While our Government’s efforts and resources have allowed for a renewed focus on Canada’s approach to sanctions,  we must continue to take the matter of imposing new sanctions and listing individuals under these laws very seriously.

Canada views sanctions as but one component of a more comprehensive suite of foreign policy tools to foster behaviour change, tools that include engagement and dialogue.

Canada’s “China Strategy”

Q: Does the Government of Canada have a “China strategy” going forward?

As part of our mandate overseeing the management of Canada’s diplomatic relations with other countries, the Department regularly advises the Government on forward-looking policies that takes into consideration ongoing trends and key developments.

We hope this special parliamentary committee will add to our ongoing discussions and play a constructive role in helping the Government shape a strategy that meets Canada’s core interests in this important bilateral relationship.

Q: Your minister has called for a “new framework” for managing Canada’s relations with China. What is that new framework?

I provide advice to but cannot speak for the Minister – and I don’t want to steal his thunder!

Ongoing calibration of our approach to complex and important relations, such as we have with China, should be expected.

The rift in our relations that broke in December 2018 exposed some fundamental differences we have to deal with and give everyone pause to think about the need for a new framework to understand and address these differences.

Good advice benefits from a diversity of views.  The Committee certainly has a role to play in forging the framework for managing Canada’s relations with China.

Q: What is the Government of Canada’s strategy to address current bilateral challenges with China?

The Government is working tirelessly to address ongoing bilateral challenges with China, and in particular, to ensure the safe return home of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and clemency for Canadians facing the death penalty.

In order to protect our ongoing consular cases, it is not advisable to publicly comment on the strategy behind an ongoing diplomatic initiative.

Q: What policy options are under consideration? Why hasn’t Canada “retaliated” against China for its behaviour?

As in any diplomatic dispute, the Government of Canada continues to carefully evaluate all available policy options, and judiciously evaluate the potential benefits and risks.

The Government is working tirelessly to address ongoing bilateral challenges with China: the arbitrary detention of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig is and will remain our absolute priority.

In order to protect our ongoing consular cases, it is not advisable to publicly comment on the strategy behind an ongoing diplomatic initiative.

Q: How is Canada engaging with the U.S. Government to address the ongoing challenges?

Canadian officials continue to engage U.S. counterparts, Chinese counterparts, and counterparts from many other foreign governments in order to address our ongoing bilateral challenges with China.

Canada welcomes the support of the U.S. government and other foreign governments in calling on China to release Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and grant clemency to Canadians facing the death penalty.

Q: Has Canada been relying too heavily on international partners?

Canada is grateful to all who have joined us in expressing concerns about China’s actions.

This includes fourteen countries - the US, UK, France, Germany, Australia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Denmark, Spain, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic – as well as the European Union, G7 Foreign Ministers, and the Secretary-General of NATO.

Many members of civil society, including scholars and former diplomats, have also been vocal in their concerns.

Partners have spoken out because they recognize that anyone could be the target of arbitrary detention.

South China Sea

Q: Does Canada have any plans to work with our allies to counter China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea?

Canada remains concerned by tensions associated with territorial and maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

Canada supports efforts to seek the peaceful management or resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, but does not generally take a position on foreign disputes.

Canada opposes unilateral actions that escalate tensions and undermine stability and the rules-based international order.

Sailings through the Taiwan Strait by the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) are consistent with past practice and international law (where the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea’s freedom of navigation regime applies).

Chinese and Taiwanese naval forces that shadowed RCN sailings recently were not unexpected - they are known to be present in the Strait.

Canada does not conduct Freedom of Navigation Operations.

Taiwan

Q: What is Canada’s policy and position on Taiwan? Will Canada support Taiwan’s participation in international organizations?

Canada’s One China Policy forms the basis of Canada’s official relations with China and this policy has allowed us to maintain unofficial but valuable people-to-people, trade and investment ties with Taiwan.Footnote 1

Canada has continually supported constructive efforts that will contribute to peace, stability and peaceful dialogue across the Taiwan Strait.

Canada supports Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organizations where there is a practical imperative and where Taiwan’s absence would be detrimental to global interests.

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus in mainland China once again demonstrates the significance of global cooperation on health and pandemics, and the importance of inclusion – no matter political status.

Q: Will Canada demonstrate its support for Taiwan by sailing through the Taiwan Strait?

Sailings through the Taiwan Strait by the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) are consistent with past practice and international law (where the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea’s freedom of navigation regime applies).

Chinese and Taiwanese naval forces that shadowed RCN sailings recently were not unexpected - they are known to be present in the Strait.

Q: Does Canada support Taiwan’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)?

Canada has not yet taken a position on the accession of any economy.

Q: Does Canada support signing a FIPA with Taiwan?

Canada is currently undergoing a review of its FIPA model, and therefore would not be able to engage in FIPA discussions with prospective partners until the review is completed.

Arctic

Q: Why is China increasing its presence in the Arctic? Are there plans for Canada to defend our interests in the Arctic?

Canada seeks to strengthen the rules-based international order in the Arctic while broadening Canada’s international engagement to contribute to priorities of Canada’s North.

China has indicated its interest in scientific research, transportation and resource development in the Arctic.

My colleagues responsible for Canada’s Arctic Policy can comment further on the environmental, economic and indigenous objectives for Canada in the Arctic.

From Global Affairs Canada’s perspective, bilateral and multilateral cooperation especially through the Arctic Council (where China is an observer) is an important part of Canada’s Arctic objectives.

Q: Will Canada allow another passage of the Xue Long (Snow Dragon) through the Northwest Passage?  Will we allow Chinese investment in the North?

Canada expects that any partner seeking scientific or economic opportunities in Canada’s Arctic comply with the rules and regulations governing these activities in the Arctic as elsewhere in Canada.

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)/AIIB

Q: What is our position on the Belt and Road Initiative?

Canada supports opportunities for Canadian companies to engage in global infrastructure initiatives that seek quality and professionalism while respecting international standards on transparency and governance. This position also applies to projects in all other sectors including energy and clean technologies.

We stress the importance of transparency, governance and financial sustainability in Belt and Road Initiative projects.

Canada officially became a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in March 2018 and and supports its guiding principles of “lean, clean and green”.

Canada has not taken a position on China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Canada calls on China to address the concerns raised by the international community around transparency, governance and financial sustainability in future BRI projects.

Canada will continue to monitor developments with respect to China’s BRI.

Q: Should Canada not withdraw from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)?

The AIIB has 102 approved members, including 57 founding members such as Australia, France, Germany, Italy, the U.K.

Canada isn’t a founding member but sees value in remaining part of the AIIB.

Withdrawing could be perceived as Canada pulling back from its commitment to the U.N. 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which Canada and all other 192 United Nations Member States adopted at the U.N General Assembly in September 2015.

Withdrawing would curtail Canada’s influence in shaping the policies and governance of one of the new multilateral institutions established in recent years, one largely congruent with Canada’s own approach to development assistance.

Withdrawing could also undermine Canada’s position of upholding a rules-based international order because the AIIB, unlike some other Chinese initiatives, has been compliant with the rules and principles that govern other international development banks.

Q: What are the benefits of the AIIB to Canada?

In terms of the net benefit to Canada, like Canada’s membership in other development banks, the benefits are often intangible. Our membership in the AIIB indicates Canada continues to engage with China (and other partners) on development in the region. It keeps a potential channel of communication open for us.

Although the AIIB was an initiative led by China, it has become a veritable regional development bank whose mandate and operations aren’t very different from those of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), African Development Bank (AfDB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) or Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), albeit with different substantive (infrastructure) and geographic focus.

US-China Relations

Q: What does the U.S.-China Trade Deal mean for Canada?

We share the concerns of other members of the international community about the impact of recent trade tensions on global trade, investment, and economic growth.

We welcome aspects of the China-U.S. agreement that support free and open trade.

However, we are concerned that some commitments promote a return to managed trade. We encourage the Parties to adhere to the rules-based trading system.

This is a new agreement between the U.S. and China – we will work to further clarify the specific details of the Phase One agreement and will evaluate its impact on Canadians.

Canada will continue to closely monitor developments in the U.S.-China trade relationship.

Q: The Prime Minister has indicated that there should be no US-China trade deal without the release of the Michael’s. Was he right?

[REDACTED] Canada for fulfilling the obligations under our extradition treaty with the United States.

Canada welcomes the support of the U.S. government and other foreign governments in calling on China to release Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and grant clemency to Canadians facing the death penalty.

Q: Canada is being squished between geopolitical confrontation of two super powers.  How can Canada possibly avoid being squished?

There has been a lot written about the strategic rivalry between a status quo and an emerging power.

This might make a great subject for the Committee to further study – there are many views to take into account.

Canada has relied on international rules and norms, and the institutions that buttress them, to ensure we can compete and prosper in a stable, peaceful and predictable world.

Given intensified rivalries – the situation you describe – it is more important than ever that Canada invest in the rules based international order.

Interference

Q: What is Canada doing to prevent Chinese interference (or espionage) in our country?

Canada takes seriously allegations of interference (or espionage) conducted with the aim of undermining Canada’s democratic system.

Canada is committed to defending the democratic system of governance. This commitment reinforces Canada’s efforts to support the rules-based international order.

Q: What is Canada doing to protect academic freedom and prevent interference on university campuses?

Freedom of expression, on university campus, in the media and throughout our society is a fundamental right for all Canadians.

Any interference in this freedoms is of grave concern.

Internationally Canada has lead efforts in the G7 to ensure likeminded democracies share the latest information and experiences in protecting democratic institutions. Canada launched the G7 Rapid Response Mechanism to provide ongoing monitoring and reporting such threats and established a permanent secretariat at Global Affairs Canada.

The Government of Canada is seized of the matter and conducts coordinated outreach to help build awareness and resilience among Canadian institutions.

Domestic agencies are particularly seized with the issue. The Committee may wish to speak these agencies for a more fulsome response on risks and mitigation measures.

Huawei and 5G/Economic security/Investment

Q: What is Canada’s position on Huawei’s participation in the building of Canada’s 5G network?

While Canada does not comment on specific companies, an examination of emerging 5G technology and the associated security and economic considerations is underway. This review includes the careful consideration of our allies’ advice.

Public Safety Canada, the Communications Security Establishment, the Department of National Defence, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Global Affairs Canada, and Innovation, Science, and Economic Development are working together on this important issue.

We will ensure that our networks are kept secure and will take the appropriate decisions in due course.

Q: Will Canada block Huawei from the 5G network?

An examination of emerging 5G technology and the associated security and economic considerations is underway.

The Government of Canada is carefully assessing the security challenges and potential threats involved in future 5G technology, while recognizing the potential this technology holds for Canadians.

Many countries, our allies in particular, have been taking a close look at this matter for some time. The issues are well understood. We are constantly pursuing them to make sure our understanding is complete, accurate and up to date.

The Government will take appropriate decisions in due course. The safety and security of Canadians is our paramount concern. We will ensure that Canada’s public interest is protected.

Q: How does the UK’s decision to allow Huawei to have a limited role in building their 5G network impact Canada’s approach to 5G deployment?

We recognize that our allies, most recently the United Kingdom, have made announcements with respect to 5G and telecommunications security.

The Government will pursue an approach that takes into account important domestic and international considerations, and that is ultimately appropriate for Canadians.

Q: What is the Government doing to ensure that Canada’s investment regime protects the national interest?

The government of Canada utilizes the Investment Canada Act (ICA) to ensure that all foreign investment, including Chinese investment, does not threaten our national security.

More broadly, the purpose of the ICA is to review investment into Canada for net benefit (economic) and for national security concerns.

Under the net benefit provisions, the 2020 thresholds for WTO investors, which includes China, are expected to be 1.075 billion dollars for private sector investors and 428 million dollars for state-owned enterprises.

For national security, the Government has the authority to review any investment at any dollar value, controlling or non-controlling and direct or indirect, including greenfield.

The ICA is an important tool that helps keep Canada open for business, while at the same time ensuring that foreign investment brings a net benefit to Canada and is not injurious to our national security.

Hong Kong

Q: When will Canada take a strong stand on Hong Kong?

Canada has strong interest in a stable and prosperous Hong Kong; we share very strong people-to-people ties and Hong Kong is an important trade and investment partner for Canada.

Canada and Hong Kong enjoy strong cooperation in several key areas, including: trade and investment, extradition, mutual legal assistance and public health.

Canada strongly supports continued adherence to the “One Country, Two Systems” principle under the Hong Kong Basic Law, which is essential for the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong and to Canadian interests.

Canada believes that public confidence in the integrity of institutions under the “One Country, Two Systems” framework is vital.

Canada remains concerned by continued confrontations and the lack of political measures to de-escalate tensions, such as a Commission of Inquiry.

Consular cases

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor

Q: What are you doing to secure the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor?

The Government of Canada is deeply concerned by the arbitrary detention and arrest by Chinese authorities of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor and we continue to call for their immediate release.

The Government is working tirelessly to address ongoing bilateral challenges with China: the arbitrary detention of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig is and will remain our absolute priority.

The Canadian government is seized with these cases and will continue to raise them with the Chinese government. In order to protect these individuals, it is not advisable to publicly comment on the strategy behind an ongoing diplomatic initiative.

Q: How are Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor doing?

We are closely monitoring the wellbeing of Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor, and working to seek improvements to their conditions of detention.

Due to the provisions of the Privacy Act, and out of respect for the preferences of the individuals and their families, I cannot provide details.

Q: How often does the Government visit Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor?

Per the Canada-China bilateral consular agreement, Canada can undertake one visit per month.

Q: What can you tell us about the prison conditions for Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor?

Due to the provisions of the Privacy Act, and out of respect for the preferences of the individuals and their families, I cannot provide details.

In general, Canada has long had concerns about detention conditions in China, and this is an issue we have raised with the Chinese Government.

We continue to call on China to respect the internationally recognized standards of detention, including the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules), and the UN Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners.

Q: Have there been any improvements to their conditions?

Due to the provisions of the Privacy Act, and out of respect for the preferences of the individuals and their families, I cannot provide details.

Robert Schellenberg, Death Penalty Cases

Q: What are you doing to address the arbitrary death sentence of Robert Schellenberg?

Canada is extremely concerned that China has arbitrarily applied the death penalty in the case of Mr. Schellenberg.

Canada opposes the use of the death penalty in all cases, everywhere. We call on China to grant clemency for Canadians sentenced to death, including Mr. Schellenberg.

Global Affairs Canada will continue to provide consular services to Mr. Schellenberg and to his family.

Due to provisions of Canada’s Privacy Act and out of respect for Mr. Schellenberg and his family, I cannot provide details.

Q: Will Mr. Schellenberg be executed?

It would not be appropriate or helpful to speculate on hypotheticals.

The Canadian government is seized with this case, and will continue working to raise it with the Chinese government.

Canada opposes the use of the death penalty in all cases, everywhere. We call on China to grant clemency for Canadians sentenced to death.

Q: How often does the Government visit Robert Schellenberg?

Canada continues to receive regular consular access in accordance with the Canada-China bilateral consular agreement.

I continue to lead these visits whenever possible.

Q:What are you doing to address the death sentence of Fan Wei?

Canada has raised our firm opposition to the death penalty with China, and will continue to do so. Canadian officials attended the April 30th, 2019, verdict and sentencing of Mr. Fan.

We call on China to grant clemency for Mr. Fan.

It is of extreme concern to our government that China has chosen to apply the death penalty, a cruel and inhumane punishment.

Global Affairs Canada has been closely following this case and has been providing consular assistance to Mr. Fan and his family since he was first detained in 2012.

Due to provisions of Canada’s Privacy Act, I cannot provide details.

Q: Has China ever executed a Canadian citizen?

Given that the number of cases of Canadians executed abroad is very low, disclosing details of these executions, including the year or the country where they occurred could lead to the identification of individuals contrary to the wishes of their families.

Canada opposes the use of the death penalty in all cases, everywhere, and will undertake clemency intervention in all cases of Canadians facing execution.

Q: How many Canadians are currently detained in China?

There are currently approximately 120 Canadians in custody in greater China.

Consular services are provided to these individuals or their families.

The number of Canadians in custody in greater China has remained stable in recent months.

Due to provisions of the Privacy Act, I cannot provide details.

Travel to China

Q: Is it safe to travel to China, in light of ongoing bilateral challenges?

Global Affairs Canada updated its China Travel Advice and Advisories on January 14, 2019, to underline the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws and provide information on the imposition of the death penalty for both violent and non-violent crimes.

GAC constantly reviews its travel advice to ensure Canadians have the latest available security information.

Ultimately, the decision to travel is at the discretion of the traveler.

We encourage Canadians to regularly consult the Travel Advice and Advisories for China for the latest information.

Meng/Extradition

Q: Why doesn’t Canada simply release Ms. Meng? Will Canada withdraw the Authority to Proceed with extradition?

Canada will not compromise nor politicize the rule of law and due process.

Ms. Meng’s arrest was not political, nor was it about our relationship with any country. Canada was abiding by its international legal obligations in accordance with the Extradition Act and our bilateral Extradition Treaty with the United States.

Ms. Meng’s extradition proceeding is currently before the BC Supreme Court. At this phase, it is up to an independent judge, not the Government of Canada, to determine the next step in the extradition process.

I understand a separate briefing on extradition by Justice Canada is being arranged.  I will defer to the experts to explain the process further.

Q&A below is provided for Info – suggest deferring specific questions to Justice Canada noting that the case is before the courts and it would be inappropriate to comment further.

Q: Why is Canada allowing Ms. Meng to enjoy so many freedoms, compared to China’s treatment of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor?

The Government of Canada does not have a role in determining bail conditions for an ongoing judicial process.

Ms. Meng was granted bail by the BC Supreme Court on Dec. 11, 2018. Her bail conditions were established by the Court.

Ms. Meng’s bail conditions include: surrender of passports, an obligation to remain in the Greater Vancouver area, an obligation to wear an ankle monitor, and an 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.

Ms. Meng is not on house arrest.

Canada will not compromise nor politicize the rule of law and due process.

Q: When/ how were Chinese authorities notified of Meng Wanzhou's detention?

The RCMP attempted to reach the Chinese Consulate General in Vancouver from the time of her arrest, [REDACTED]

Chinese authorities received consular access to Ms. Meng (i.e. met with Ms. Meng) [REDACTED], within hours of Ms. Meng’s arrest.

Q: Is Canada obliged to inform China of an arrest?

Under Article 8 of the bilateral Canada-China consular agreement, it is the authorities who arrest the Chinese national – in this case, the RCMP - who must inform China of an arrest.

Q: When did GAC discuss Ms. Meng’s arrest with Chinese authorities?

On Saturday Dec. 1, 2018, the Chinese Ambassador to Canada contacted Global Affairs Canada to discuss the arrest.

GAC and the Ambassador had brief scheduling exchanges over the weekend, and arranged a meeting to discuss the arrest on the next business day, Monday, Dec. 3, 2018.

Ambassador Lu Shaye met with then Assistant Deputy Minister for Asia Pacific on Monday Dec. 3, 2018, to discuss Ms. Meng's arrest.

Q: When did the Government of Canada learn of the U.S. extradition request for Ms. Meng?

Canada followed standard procedure for this extradition request as Canada would follow with any extradition partner, no matter the nationality in question or the identify of the person involved.

[REDACTED]

The Southern District of Manhattan issued a warrant for the arrest of Ms. Meng on August 22, 2018. [REDACTED]

Once satisfied there was a valid U.S. warrant for the arrest of Ms. Meng, Canada obtained its own warrant to carry out a provisional arrest, in accordance with the terms of the Extradition Treaty.

Q: [REDACTED]

[REDACTED]

[REDACTED]

[REDACTED]

[REDACTED]

Rule of Law

Q: Both Canada and China claim to be acting in accordance with the rule of law, accusing the other of political “hostage taking”. What is your assessment of the rule of law in China?

Indeed, Canada is a rule of law country. The rule of law as fundamental to free societies.

We share with many partners the conviction that the rule of law is not a choice: it is the bedrock of democracy. Canada will not compromise nor politicize the rule of law and due process.

Canada respects its international legal commitments, including by honouring its extradition treaty with the United States.

The rule of law is fundamental to all free societies; we will defend and uphold this principle.

While we share many common interests, Canada and the People’s Republic of China do not share the same model of governance or understanding of the rule of law.

China’s leadership has specifically rejected constitutionalism, separation of powers and an independent judiciary – these are fundamental to the rule of law in Canada.

Q: How can you be sure the arrest of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, or the sentencing of Robert Schellenberg was “arbitrary”?

Due process, to the standards of an impartial and independent judiciary, was not afforded to Canadians in these cases.

The practice of residential surveillance in a designated location has come under global criticism.

The Chinese government maintains that the Canadian citizens are being treated the same as any other defendant in the Chinese system, [REDACTED]

Canada continues to press for the immediate release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor and clemency for Robert Schellenberg and all those facing the death penalty.

Commercial challenges – canola, pork, other

Q: What is the status of Canada-China commercial relations?

China is Canada’s third-largest trading partner, after the US and the EU (in 2018, 75 percent of Canada’s total exports went to the United States, 8 percent to the EU, and 5 percent to China).

Since 2018, Canadian exports to and overall bilateral trade with China have decreased significantly, while imports decreased slightly.

Through January-November 2019, total merchandise exports decreased 14.7 percent year-over-year (YOY) to $20.9 billion, driven by a drop in canola seed, wood pulp and nickel exports; merchandise imports from China decreased by 0.4 percent YOY to $69 billion. Overall bilateral trade decreased by 4.4 percent YOY to $85 billion.

Consultations at the WTO on China’s import measures on Canadian canola seed took place on October 28, 2019. Technical discussions between Canadian and Chinese experts took place December 18-20, 2019 in Beijing. Canada is considering the information provided by China at the WTO consultations and the December technical discussions before determining next steps.

The pork and beef export issue with China has been resolved. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency resumed issuing export certificates as of November 5.

Our objective is to promote increased trade and investment opportunities with China while improving market access for restricted or suspended exports (mainly canola seed).

Q: Is it safe to do business in China, in light of ongoing bilateral challenges?

China is Canada’s third largest merchandise trading partner, and an important market for Canadian businesses.

We are going through a difficult period in our relationship with China, and it is affecting some sectors of our bilateral trade.

At the same time, most Canadian businesses actively established in China continue to engage positively with Chinese partners, clients and investors on commercial opportunities.

Canada will continue to engage with China and look for ways to grow our economy and enhance trade.

Q: What is the current situation for Canadian canola exports to China?

Last March, the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC) suspended imports of canola seed from two Canadian companies and increased inspection on all other shipments of Canadian canola seed to China.

Regaining full market access for Canadian canola seed to China remains a top priority for our government.

WTO consultations between Canada and China took place on October 28, 2019, which served as an opportunity for important face-to-face discussions.

Technical discussions took place between Canada and China December 18-20, 2019, in Beijing.

Canada is considering the information obtained from China before making a decision on next steps.

Our Government will always stand up for Canadian farmers, their high quality products and our robust inspection system.

Q: What is Canada doing to address China’s blocking of Canadian canola?

Regaining full market access for Canadian canola seed to China remains a top priority for our government.

This is why Canada requested WTO consultations with China, which took place on October 28, 2019, and served as an opportunity to engage in face-to-face discussions.

Canada and China also engaged in technical discussions on December 18-20, 2019, in Beijing.

The government also established a Government-Industry Working Group on Canola that regularly engages on this issue. We will continue to keep agricultural stakeholders informed of our progress.

Strong collaboration between industry and the government at all levels continues to be vitally important to resuming market access for our canola seed to China.

Q: What are the next steps in terms of canola at the WTO?

WTO consultations provided a good opportunity for Canada and China to engage face-to-face on this issue.

On December 18-20, Canada and China engaged in technical discussions in Beijing.

We need to fully consider the additional information provided by China before determining next steps.

Q: What is the current situation for Canadian beef and pork exports to China?

On November 5, 2019, China informed the Canadian Embassy in Beijing that eligible establishments could resume pork and beef exports immediately.

Beef and pork products derived from animals slaughtered on or after November 5, 2019, are eligible for export to China.

The CFIA has resumed issuing export certificates for establishments eligible to export to China. Since November 27, 2019, the CFIA has issued a total of 2046 pork and 45 beef certificates to China.

The CFIA continues to work with industry at a technical level to review the export certification process for meat and meat products being exported to China. The purpose is to limit preventable non-compliances with Chinese import requirements.

The Government continues to engage with China to restore access for the remaining establishments temporarily suspended and the approval of additional establishments.

Q: How is the government supporting the export of Canadian tobacco to China?

The Government of Canada is aware of this specific market access issue.

We are committed to ensuring that all Canadian exporters continue to have stable market access to China.

Q: How is the government restoring market access for Canadian bovine genetics in China?

The Government of Canada is committed to restoring market access for Canadian exports of bovine genetics.

We will continue to work with China to resolve this issue.

Miscellaneous

Coronavirus and trade

Q: What is the effect of coronavirus on trade?

The health and safety of Canadians abroad is the absolute priority of the government.

Hubei Province, where most of the coronavirus cases are identified, accounts for only 0.8% of China’s imports from Canada.

At this point, it is too early to predict the impact of the coronavirus on trade between Canada and China.

The government is monitoring the situation very closely.

Q: How has this coronavirus impacted the Canadian lobster industry?

Due to the outbreak, Chinese New Year celebrations have been cancelled and many restaurants are closed, causing a drop in demand for seafood.

Further, it is reported that China is taking measures to curtail activities at traditional wet markets and seafood markets due to the outbreak, resulting closed distribution channels.

In addition, it is believed that Chinese government is halting the sale of all live animals in China or certain regions in response to the outbreak.

We are aware of initial reports of lobster shipments blocked and will seek more information from Chinese officials once they return from the Chinese New Year holidays.

China as a market economy

Q: Does the Government consider that China behaves as a market economy?

2018 marked the 40th’s anniversary of China’s reform and opening, which began in 1978 under Deng Xiaoping.

China has much to be proud of over the past 40 years, most notably, its successful efforts to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.

During the past four decades, Canada worked with China on this important goal, including through the provision of Canadian development assistance, and the expansion of bilateral commercial cooperation.

Going forward, Canada watches with interest commitments from China on further opening up and we hope to see more concrete actions from China to ensure a level playing field for Canadian businesses.

Intellectual Property Rights

Q: How does the Government assist our companies to ensure their intellectual property rights are respected?

Issues surrounding the protection of intellectual property rights have been a challenge for a number of Canadian companies doing business in China.

For that reason, Canada closely follows developments in China’s intellectual property (IP) policy and legal regime, and encourages China’s ongoing modernization efforts across a broad suite of IP-related laws and regulations (e.g. patents, trademarks, trade secrets, technology transfer, IP enforcement procedures).

The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) is working with partners, such as the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), to improve its knowledge and capacity to support, prepare and advise Canadian companies who want to expand their activities in China.

Canada and China created an IP Policy Working Group under the Canada-China Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETC), to help advance our mutual understanding of these important issues. The first working group meeting took place in Ottawa on October 23-24, 2018.

Made in China 2025

Q: How is the Government addressing China’s industrial policies, including the Made in China 2025 Plan?

We naturally have an interest in better understanding China’s economic and industrial policies, including Made in China 2025.

As China’s economic drivers transform from investment-led and export-oriented towards consumption and services, new industries and sectors will develop, including many emerging technologies.

Canada believes in trade and economic policies that are WTO-consistent, including on market access, national treatment, and government procurement.

Going forward, Canada watches with interest commitments from China on “opening-up” and we hope to see more concrete actions to ensure a level-playing field for Canadian businesses.

FTA Negotiation with China

Q: Despite ongoing tensions, is FTA negotiation with China a potential possibility in the future?

China is an important trading partner for Canada.

Will continue to engage with China to grow our trade investment relationship.

No decision whether to pursue an FTA at this time.

CUSMA

Q: How was the U.S.  able to enter into a trade deal with china without consulting Canada per the CUSMA?

The CUSMA does not prevent Canada from continuing to engage with any country, nor from entering into a trade agreement.

Canada will always take actions that are in the best interests of Canadians.

Q: Would the CUSMA limit Canada’s ability to negotiate a free trade deal or otherwise pursue its commercial interests with China?

CUSMA has not yet entered into force.

Investment Act

We continue to exercise our right to review investments to ensure they align with our principles of net benefit and national security.

The ICA is intended to promote investment that enhances shared goals of economic growth and employment.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

Q: What is Canada’s position on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) attraction?

FDI can play an important role in supporting Canada’s economic competitiveness. FDI has the potential to bring new jobs, technologies, and export market opportunities for Canadians.

In that respect, Canada welcomes FDI, including from China, that is of a net benefit to Canada and is not injurious to national security.

Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service has dedicated network of FDI attraction officers situated throughout China. Our TCS team in China works hard to identify FDI targets that have core competencies that complement the Canadian economy.

The TCS works in tandem with the new Invest in Canada agency to support investors as they investigate opportunities in Canada and as they implement their investment projects.

Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement

Q: How does the Government ensure that Canadian investors rights in China are respected?

The Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA) is the cornerstone of Canada’s strong – and growing – investment relationship with China.

It establishes a strong, rules-based framework through which to grow two-way investment flows.

The agreement protects investors from: discriminatory or arbitrary treatment; expropriation without fair compensation; abusive treatment; denial of due process; etc.

S&T Cooperation with China

Q: What is the government view on S&T cooperation with China?

Canada welcomes collaboration on science, technology and innovation initiatives that are of benefit to Canada.

Canada and China have a long history of collaboration in science, technology, and innovation.

Our research institutions and private companies have the potential to work more closely to deepen their scientific knowledge, develop novel technologies, and accelerate mutually beneficial economic growth.

Canada recognizes that an innovative culture requires international networks and collaboration between companies and people: China and Canada both have much to offer in this respect.

Canada has a domestic Innovation and Skills Plan to foster a culture of innovation, inclusiveness, and competitiveness. It will target key growth sectors to attract investment and grow export-oriented companies.

Q: How has Canada placed measure to engage in research cooperation while protecting national security?

Canada welcomes international research collaboration opportunities that are of benefit to Canada.

Canada has legislation and regulations in place, namely the Export and Import Permits Act, to ensure that exports of goods, technology and know-how do not cause harm to Canada and its allies and do not undermine Canada’s national security.

People-to-People Ties

Q: What is the extent of Canada’s people-to-people and cultural links to China?

Strong people-to-people ties link Canada and China. After English and French, taken together, Chinese dialects are Canada’s most-spoken languages.

Chinese-Canadians make up over 5.1% of our population. This diaspora community contributes significantly to the fabric of Canadian society including in business, academia, culture and politics.

Our cooperation extends to provincial and municipal governments: there are more than 100 jurisdictions in Canada and China that are twinned with each other.

Tourism, education along with cultural exchanges anchor our two countries’ exceptional people-to-people ties and help to promote greater mutual understanding and lasting relationships in numerous fields.

Tourism

Q: How important is tourism from China to Canada’s economy? Has tourism been affected by the bilateral dispute that began in December 2018?

Tourism is Canada’s largest service export, supports 739,700 jobs and more than 200,000 businesses, and it is the largest employer of youth.

China is the third largest source of tourists for Canada with 737,000 tourists in 2018, surpassing the 700K for the first time, and doubling the number of annual travelers since 2013. China is Canada’s second largest market for tourist spending with an average of about $2,850 per trip.

According to Statistics Canada, arrivals from China are down 0.7% for the first eight months of the year, compared to the same period in 2018.

Other countries, including the U.S., are also experiencing a downturn in travelers from China.

While the coronavirus outbreak is affecting tourism, it is too early to estimate the impact.

Education Cooperation

Q: What forms of Canada-China cooperation exist in the area of education?

More than 140,000 Chinese students studied in Canada in 2018, representing 25% of all international students in Canada on study permits of six months or more. According to China’s Ministry of Education, there were 4,322 Canadian studying in China in 2018.

There are currently more than 85 schools in China licensed to teach a Canadian elementary or secondary school curriculum.

The Canada-China Memorandum of Understanding on Education Cooperation, signed in 2016, highlights our commitment to bilateral cooperation in the field of education.

A second MOU, from 2017, specifically supports the Canada Learning Initiative in China (CLIC), a scholarship program for Canadian post-secondary students to study in China.

The Canada-China Scholars’ Exchange Program (CCSEP) celebrated its 45th Anniversary in 2018 and has supported over 1100 distinguished scholars.

Through this program, 20-30 Canadian students, researchers and public sector professionals per year study in China for up to a year. The program also supports the research activities of Chinese scholars in Canada. It typically offers opportunities to around 10 Chinese scholars to study in Canada for up to 10 months.

Q: How is the government implementing the China Internship Program for Canadian students?

The China internship program has been launched in September 2019 and the selected candidates have been contacted.

The first cohort of interns will begin in early January 2020 and continue to the end of April.

The China internship program adds to the opportunities available to Canadian students to gain new skills in this key global market, to meet current and emerging labour market challenges in Canada.

Q: What forms of Canada-China cooperation exist in the cultural arena?

Art and Cultural exchanges can facilitate bilateral trade, advance Canadian values, and foster friendship between the peoples of our two countries.

Commercial partnerships and exchanges among our creative artists in different sectors such as visual art, performing arts, film and literature help to promote cross-cultural understanding and offer many Chinese their first impressions of Canada, and vice versa.

Canada and China continue to promote arts and culture through visits, exchanges and dialogues.

Our two countries signed a Film Coproduction Treaty which entered into force in 2017. This Treaty benefits both countries’ audiovisual industries and facilitates business-to-business relationships.

Q: What is Canada’s position on creative industries engagement with China?

Canada is committed to exploring commercial opportunities for its creative industries in the Chinese market. Canada is home to a thriving digital media industry. We are a world leader in video game development, animation, and visual effects, and this industry continues to grow.

Commercial agreements and partnerships in the creative industries significantly contribute to the creative economy.

In April 2018, Heritage Minister Joly led Canada's first Creative Industries Trade Mission to China with a delegation of 56 businesses and organizations throughout the creative industries, including film, television, performing arts, gaming, museums, publishing and music, and witnessed the signing of 23 agreements worth nearly $125M.

Formal dialogues

Q: What is the status on formal dialogues with China’s leadership?

Prime Minister Trudeau last met with Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, Li Keqiang, on Nov. 14, 2018, for the third Canada-China Annual Leaders Dialogue.

On November 12, 2018, Canadian Minister of Finance Bill Morneau and former Minister of International Trade Diversification Jim Carr co-chaired the first Economic and Financial Strategic Dialogue (EFSD) in Beijing, together with Chinese State Councillor Wang Yong. The EFSD is one of our most important mechanisms to strengthen economic and financial cooperation between Canada and China. The full list of outcomes from the 2018 EFSD is public, and can be viewed online.

As a result of the ongoing challenges in the bilateral relationship, there has been no formal high-level bilateral dialogues with the PRC since December 2018.

Social credit system

Q: What is Canada’s position on China’s social credit system?

Canada understands that regional and municipal governments in China are currently piloting so-called “social credit systems”, including Corporate Social Credit System to become a nationwide social credit system by 2020.

The Government of Canada will continue to seek information about these systems, including on how these systems may impact Canadians and Canadian companies.

Canada urges China to ensure any social credit systems respect human rights, including freedom of assembly and association, freedom of expression, and access to criminal justice.

Canada-China cooperation exist in the defence and security arena

Q: What forms of Canada-China cooperation exist in the defence and security arena?

The Canadian Armed Forces and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army are maintaining their relationship through regular high-level dialogues and on issues such as Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response.

Our two militaries are also exploring ways to strengthen cooperation in areas such a military education and service interactions.

These exchanges encourage mutual understanding, enable the CAF and PLA to discuss defence and security issues of shared interest, and afford Canada an opportunity to promote its views and values.

The CAF/DND’s engagement with the PLA reflects the importance Canada places on maintaining relations with China, and the increasingly significant role China plays in the security environment of the Asia-Pacific region.

Fentanyl

Q: What are Canada and China doing to combat the flow of illicit opioids (fentanyl)?

The Government of Canada is working constructively with Chinese counterparts to address the flow of synthetic opioids from China into Canada, in particular, fentanyl.

Practical efforts include a pilot initiative to interdict opioids through postal and courier shipments to Canada, based on latest trends and intelligence.

We are also working with China to exchange information on illicit commercial trends and patterns related to contraband smuggling.

These activities are supported by formal cooperation mechanisms, namely: a Memorandum of Understanding between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Chinese Ministry of Public Security on preventing and combatting crime; and a Cooperation Plan between the Canadian Border Services Agency and the General Administration of China Customs.

Canada and China will continue to seek joint opportunities to address the flow of controlled, restricted and prohibited goods between our two countries.

Freedom of navigation operations

Q: What efforts has Canada undertaken related to freedom of navigation operations?

Canada does not have a Freedom of Navigation Program, and Freedom of Navigation Operations are not general Canadian practice.

The Royal Canadian Navy conducts operations in accordance with international law, including the rights of navigation, and the rights and jurisdiction of coastal states.

Canada’s navy operates in the South China Sea, as it has for decades, and will continue to do so.

China’s interests in the Arctic

Q: What is Canada’s position related to China’s interests in the Arctic?

We welcome China’s objective to work constructively and make positive contributions to the Arctic Council and the Arctic region.

Canada is committed to cooperation with other states in the Arctic, and welcomes continued discussions with China on Arctic issues. These discussions can take place through existing bilateral mechanisms and multi-lateral forums.

Canada welcomes China’s commitment to respecting international law in the Arctic region, including environmental, navigation and other standards.

As a global Arctic leader, Canada will ensure that circumpolar dialogue considers our domestic interests, particularly those of our Indigenous and Northern residents.

As part of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, the various waterways known as the Northwest Passage are Canada’s internal waters, over which we have full sovereignty. This includes the unfettered right to regulate over these waters.

As a policy matter, Canada welcomes navigation in these areas, provided vessels respect Canada’s rules and regulations (including on safety, security and protection of the environment).

Extradition of individuals wanted by the Chinese government

Q: Does Canada support extraditing individuals wanted by the Chinese government back to China?

While Canada supports efforts to return criminals to China, all such efforts must be carried out in accordance with Canadian law. Canada will not become a safe haven for criminals.

As part of its initiatives to clamp down on corruption, China has placed a greater emphasis on trans-national judicial and law-enforcement cooperation, including efforts to repatriate alleged fugitives.

The Government of Canada, through the Canada Border Services Agency, has a statutory obligation under Canadian law to enforce the removal of inadmissible persons as soon as possible.

We place the highest priority on removal cases involving national security, organized crime, crimes against humanity and criminals.

However, every person ordered removed from Canada, including economic fugitives, is entitled to due process before the law and has access to various levels of appeal, including judicial review.

As Canada is seeking to encourage tourism, foreign student enrollment, and business investment with China, it will be increasingly important to have a robust and cooperative enforcement and removal program with China in order to jointly deter irregular migration.

Extradition treaty

Q: Are there plans to consider a potential bilateral extradition treaty with China?

Canada will continue to review extradition requests from China on a case-by-case basis.

China’s “Solid Waste” Import Restrictions

Q: Has China closed off all imports of foreign waste into their country?

Canada and China share the common goal that all materials should be reused and recycled to their fullest potential, and disposed of in an environmentally sound manner, with exports of valuable recyclable commodities (such as scrap metal, plastic and paper) meeting applicable environmental standards.

Canada continues to encourage China to ensure its measures are the least trade-restrictive possible, while respecting its objective to limit harmful environmental impacts.

Q: How much waste was Canada exporting to China before the ban?

Before the new import ban, China imported up to $655.4 million annually of “recyclable” solid waste from Canada. This represents about 2.6% of China’s annual global imports of these materials.

Q: What was the impact of China’s ban on foreign waste?

China’s imports of certain paper/paperboard (valued at up to $155.2 million in 2018) from Canada will not be affected by the ban.

Effective January 1, 2019, China banned imports of many Canadian “recyclables”, including plastic and recovered copper and aluminum (valued at up to $420 million annually).

Environment, Climate Change, and Energy

Q: Is Canada working with China on environmental issues? What has been the progress to date on our cooperation on the environment?

Global environmental challenges require global solutions. That’s why it is important Canada strengthens its partnership on climate, environment protection and conservation with major players.

Canada has continued to engage with China on the environment. This includes participation at the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development and active engagement between officials and experts.

Canada, China, and the EU have co-convened the Ministerial on Climate Action (MOCA) meetings to bring together Ministers and representatives from 35 major economies and other countries that are key for climate action to build momentum for ambitious climate action. Last year MOCA supported the completion of the Paris Rulebook, which lays the groundwork for ambitious and transparent climate action around the world to implement the Paris Agreement.

The Government of Canada is committed to developing resources in a sustainable manner, ensuring that economic growth and environmental protection go hand in hand.

To this end, Canada has developed principles for a clean energy future to transform our energy system in a way that:

When others look at what Canada has — our energy, mineral, and forest abundance; our political stability and diversified workforce; the Indigenous partnerships and our record of balancing resource development with environmental protection — there are a lot of reasons to be confident in Canada’s resource sectors.

Canada-China Joint Statement on Marine Litter and Plastics

Q: Is there an environmental issue where Canada has worked and made progress with China on? Has there been any progress on the Canada-China Joint Statement on Marine Litter and Plastics?

During the 2018 Annual Leaders Dialogue between Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Li, Canada and China issued a joint statement on Marine Litter and Plastics.

In the statement, both sides acknowledged that plastic pollution resulting from current practices has negative impacts on ocean health, biodiversity, economic sustainability, and potentially on human health.

Both leaders recognized the importance of taking a sustainable lifecycle approach to the management of plastics to reduce the threat to the environment and, particularly, to reduce marine litter in oceans.

Both sides committed to move towards more resource-efficient management of plastics across their entire life-cycle which will improve efficiency while decreasing environmental impacts.

Canada-China Joint Leaders Statement on Climate Change and Clean Growth

Q: What is Canada’s approach to working with China on climate change?

The Canada-China Joint Leaders' Statement on Climate Change and Clean Growth demonstrates our mutual commitment to take concrete action in the fight against climate change in both multilateral and bilateral fora.

For Canada, this Statement is integral to a comprehensive, balanced approach to expanding trade and investment relations with China by supporting clean growth.

Climate Finance Funding Provided to China

Q: Does Canada provide support to China on climate change issues? What is an example of a climate change project that Canada has worked with China on?

China is eligible to receive funding via our support to international financial institutions and financial mechanisms related to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). China receives Canadian funding via our contributions to eh Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Montreal Protocol, and the Green Climate Fund (GCF). In November 2019, China received its first grant, USD 100 million, approved by the GCF.

Other projects in Chin have been financed as part of Canada’s $20 million fast-start contribution to the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). China received $1.5 million in climate financing under Fast Start from IDRC for a research project.

IDRC funds research in developing countries to promote growth, reduce poverty, and drive large-scale positive change. IDRC is a Crown corporation governed by a board of up to 14 governors, whose Chairperson reports to Parliament through the Minister of International Development.

Canada-China Health Cooperation

Q: What is the extent of Canada’s cooperation with China on health issues?

Canada and China have had a long-standing relationship in the field of health, dating as far back as the 19th century.

Canada and China have had a Memorandum of Understanding on health cooperation since 1995.

Over the past 20 years, our countries have cooperated on regulation of food, consumer products safety; infectious and non-communicable diseases; and health research.

Canada looks forward to continuing our health cooperation with China.

Food safety in Canada

Q: Is Canada working with China on food safety issues? What some examples of our cooperation with China in this area?

The Canada-China MOU on health cooperation promotes bilateral cooperation on food safety.

All food sold in Canada, whether domestic or imported, must comply with Canadian regulatory requirements, including the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations, the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations and the Safe Food for Canadians Act.

Regardless of the country of origin, if the Government of Canada identifies products that do not meet regulatory requirements or pose a risk to health and safety Canadians, enforcement action is taken. Enforcement action can take on a number of forms, including recall.

Visas and Biometrics

Q: Have there been any recent changes to Canada’s visa policy concerning Chinese nationals?

As of December 31, 2018, Canada expanded its collection of biometrics (photographs and fingerprints) to all Chinese nationals applying for a visitor visa, a study or work permit, or permanent residence.

This is part of a broader Government of Canada initiative to expand biometrics collection to most temporary and permanent resident applicants.

Canada is doing everything it can to make the biometrics collection process as smooth as possible for all applicants. For example, we have specific measures to meet the needs of those who make repeat visits to Canada.

Cybersecurity

Q: What has Canada done to address China’s cyberattacks against Canadian companies and entities?

Canada will continue to strongly oppose unacceptable State behaviour in cyberspace and to call out cyber threat actors. It is about defending our people, businesses, and institutions from cyber threats. It is about advocating for the rules-based international order to be respected in all spheres, including cyberspace.

Canada is concerned about the increasing threats emanating from cyberspace, including cyber theft and cyber-enabled industrial espionage, and will take a firm stand against these threats.

We continue to be vigilant in monitoring any potential vulnerabilities and will work with partners to address these threats.

Canada, together with China and other states, have been working at the UN, G20, and elsewhere, to develop norms of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace. Canada supports these norms and would like to see their wider adoption.

Canada believes it is important to continue to build the international consensus that cyberspace is not lawless, but rather a sphere subject to the rule of law. Canada continues to be of the firm view that state behaviour in cyberspace is subject to international law. We are open to dialogue with China on how particular aspects of international law would apply to given activities in cyberspace.

At the 2nd Canada-China National Security and Rule of Law Dialogue in June 2017, our countries agreed that we would not conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sectors. We have also agreed to similar undertakings in the context of the G20.

This was a positive development. We expect China to abide to this undertaking, just as Canada will. A more level playing field benefits both our countries.

We look forward to continuing to work with China on cyber issues bilaterally and multilaterally.

Dual citizenship

Q: Does Canada provide consular or other support to Canadian citizens who are dual nationals of Canada and China?

Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in China. If local authorities consider a person to be a Chinese citizen, they may refuse to grant this person access to Canadian consular services. Canadian citizens travelling to China should always travel using their valid Canadian passport and present themselves as Canadian to authorities at all times to minimize this risk.

If you are a Canadian of Chinese origin travelling to China, ensure that you are well informed about Chinese law and practices relating to determination and loss of Chinese citizenship, including cancelling a household register (hukou) and applying to renounce Chinese citizenship. Contact the nearest Chinese diplomatic or consular office for more details.

Allegations of mistreatment by Canadians detained abroad

Q: How does Canada handle issues relating to the mistreatment of Canadians detained in China?

Canada takes allegations of mistreatment of Canadian citizens very seriously and seeks to prevent the mistreatment of Canadians detained abroad.

Canada advocates for the promotion, protection and respect for human rights as core priorities in our engagement with China.

Consular cases (Responsive only)

Huseyincan Celil

Q: Another Canadian, Hussein Celil, was arbitrarily detained, arrested, and sentenced to life. He is still in jail. Why is he not a top priority for you, and only the Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor?

Mr. Huseyincan Celil's case remains important to the Government of Canada and continues to be raised at senior levels.

We continue to call upon the Chinese government to give Canadian officials consular access in order to determine Mr. Celil's well-being.

To protect our efforts and the privacy of the individual concerned, we cannot release further details on this case.

Xiao Jianhua

Q: Has there been any recent developments in the consular case concerning Xiao Jianhua?

Canadian consular officials continue to ask Chinese authorities for information, so that we may provide consular assistance to Mr. Xiao.

Canadian officials have raised the case with Chinese authorities and are closely monitoring this matter.

To protect our efforts and the privacy of the individual concerned, we cannot release further details on this case.

Mr. Chung-Nan (John) Chang and Ms. Lan-Fen (Allison) Lu (Lulu winery owners)

Q: Has there been any recent updates on the consular case concerning Mr. Chung-Nan (John) Chang and Ms. Lan-Fen (Allison) Lu?

Global Affairs Canada is closely following the case of Mr. Chang and Ms. Lu.

The Government of Canada continues to provide consular services to Mr. Chang, Ms. Lu and their family.

To protect the privacy of the individuals concerned, further details on this case cannot be released.

Ms. Sun Qian

Q: Has there been any recent updates on the consular case concerning Ms. Sun Qian?

Canadian officials are providing consular assistance to Ms. Sun and are closely monitoring her case.

Canada has taken steps to support Ms. Sun since the beginning of her detention and will continue to do so‎.

In our relations with China, respect for human rights, and consular matters, are priorities.

To protect our efforts and the privacy of the individual concerned, we cannot release further details on this case.

Other cases

Q: Are there any other consular cases involving Canadian citizens that have not been made public? Can you provide any details?

To protect the privacy of the individual(s) concerned, details of specific cases cannot be released.

Canada requests consular access to all Canadian citizens detained in China. Each consular case is unique and our ability to assist Canadian citizens is conditioned, in many instances, by local laws and regulations.

Lai Changxing

Q: How is Lai Changxing doing in the years since his extradition back to China?

In 2011, Mr. Lai was removed from Canada to China in accordance with Canadian law.

Following diplomatic assurances received from the Chinese government, Canadian officials visited Mr. Lai in detention and attended his trial in 2012.

Canadian diplomats continue to monitor the situation of Mr. Lai in accordance with the assurances provided and in cooperation with Chinese officials.

Section C: Background briefs

Canada-China Bilateral Relations

Latest Developments

Background

Bilateral Tensions

Consular cases: On December 10, 2018, in the days following the arrest of Ms. Meng, two Canadians were detained by Chinese authorities—Mr. Michael Kovrig and Mr. Michael Spavor—under the pretext of endangering China’s national security. On December 9, 2019, Chinese authorities moved their cases to the “prosecution phase”, in keeping with expected timelines for legal proceedings in China. Neither has yet been charged. [REDACTED]. Canada is deeply concerned by China’s arbitrary detention and subsequent arrest of these two Canadians, and continues to call for their immediate release.

On January 14, 2019, China arbitrarily sentenced Canadian Mr. Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to death, following a swift retrial and overturning a previous sentence of 15 years of imprisonment. The Government of Canada has requested clemency for Mr. Schellenberg. Mr. Schellenberg appealed the sentence and a hearing took place on May 9, 2019. A verdict will be announced at a later date.

Canada continues to raise these cases with Chinese authorities seeking the immediate release of Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor and clemency for Canadians sentenced to death in China. Consular officials are providing assistance to these individuals and their families. Several countries, international organizations, and members of civil society have repeatedly expressed support for Canada’s position. This includes the U.S., UK, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Denmark, Spain, Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, and Czech Republic, plus the G7, the EU and the Secretary General of NATO.

Canola: Immediately after Canada issued an Authority to Proceed with Ms. Meng’s extradition hearing on March 1, 2019, China suspended imports of canola seeds from two Canadian establishments, and increased inspection of all shipments of Canadian canola seed to China. Technical discussions between Canadian and Chinese experts took place December 18-20, 2019 in Beijing. Canada is considering the information provided by China at the WTO consultations and the December technical discussions before determining next steps. See Canada-China Commercial Relations Brief for details.

Meng Wanzhou: On December 1, 2018, Ms. Meng Wanzhou, Chief Financial Officer of Huawei, was arrested in Vancouver in accordance with the Canada-U.S. Extradition Treaty. Canada is following the rule of law and complying with its international legal obligations: there was no political interference in her arrest. Ms. Meng’s double criminality hearing began in mid-January. Justice Canada’s position is that Ms. Meng’s actions constitute fraud, a crime in Canada, and therefore double criminality exists as her actions would be considered illegal in both the U.S. and Canada, albeit under distinct legal regimes (sanctions vs. general criminal law).

Bilateral Engagement Overview

Since the arrest of Ms. Meng, China has put on hold virtually all formal high-level dialogues. Canada’s presence across Greater China includes the Embassy in Beijing, four consulates general, ten trade offices, and an office in Taiwan. Six provincial governments—Ontario, Québec, BC, Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan—also have representation in China.

High level interactions: On November 23, 2019, Minister of Foreign Affairs Champagne met with State Councillor and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang on the margins of the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Nagoya, Japan. Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Freeland previously met with Minister Wang on August 2, 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand on the margins of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. On June 28, 2019, Prime Minister Trudeau had a brief encounter with President Xi on the margins of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan. In each of these meetings, the Prime Minister or Minister of Foreign Affairs raised Canada’s concerns about China’s arbitrary measures against Canadians.

Human Rights and Good Governance: Human rights are a core priority for Canada’s engagement with China. Efforts include official exchanges, statements, demarches, programs, and advocacy work. Canada continues to express concerns bilaterally and in multilateral forums through the UN, including in the UN Human Rights Council. Among other issues, these concerns relate to civil and political rights, including freedom of expression and of assembly. They also include the ongoing persecution of religious and ethnic minorities, including those in Xinjiang and Tibet.

Cyber Security: China is a sophisticated actor in the cyber domain, which poses significant challenges to Canadian interests. In December 2018, Canada and many like-minded countries made statements identifying China as responsible for specific cyber-compromise incidents.

Energy and Environment: Canada and China cooperate actively on energy and environmental issues. Ministerial dialogues on climate change, environment, and clean energy are supported by working-level mechanisms. The third trilateral (Canada-China-EU) Ministerial on Climate Action took place in Brussels on June 28–29, 2019. On November 14, 2018, Canada and China issued a leaders’ statement agreeing to cooperate on tackling ocean plastics and marine litter. A meeting between Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and Chinese Vice Minister for the Environment Zhao took place on December 13, 2019 at COP25.

Health: A ministerial dialogue, the Canada-China Policy Dialogue (CCPD), and a Canada-China MOU from 1995 provide the basis of our long-standing bilateral co-operation on health issues. During Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit to China in August 2016 and Chinese Premier Li’s visit to Canada in September 2016, several health-related outcomes were jointly announced, including a commitment to cooperate on consumer product safety and co-operation on global development initiatives including Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. The last health dialogue took place in 2014 in Beijing.

Trade: China is Canada’s third-largest trading partner, after the U.S. and the EU (in 2018, 75% of Canada’s total exports went to the U.S., 8% to the EU, and 5% to China). See Canada-China Commercial Relations brief for further details.

People-to-People Ties

There are nearly 1.8 million Canadian residents of Chinese descent, accounting for approximately 5.1% of Canada’s total population.

Education: In 2018, more than 140,000 Chinese students studied in Canada, representing 25% of foreign students studying in Canada on study permits of six months or more. Over 4,000 Canadians studied in China in 2018. Co-operation is supported by a 2016 Canada-China MOU on education co-operation, along with the Canada Learning Initiative in China and the Canada-China Scholars’ Exchange Program.

Tourism: China is the third largest source of tourists to Canada, with 757,205 visitors in 2018. Through January to July 2019, Destination Canada reports a 6.7% year-over-year decrease of non-land arrivals from China. This follows two years of record number visits in 2017 and 2018 and 10 years of double-digit growth.

Immigration: Chinese immigration to Canada has long been and remains an important element of the Canada-China relationship. Immigrants born in China form one of the largest groups within Canada’s immigrant population. In 2018, China represented 22% of all temporary resident applications submitted globally.

Culture: 2018 saw the first ministerial Joint Committee on Culture, and Canada’s first creative industries trade mission to China. There are growing numbers of independently organized exchanges by arts organizations. Canada and China signed a film co-production treaty in 2016.

Canada-China Commercial Relations

Latest Developments

Current Position

Canada: To promote increased trade and investment opportunities with China while improving market access for restricted or suspended exports (mainly canola seed).

[REDACTED]

Background

Commercial Overview

Goods Trade: China is Canada’s third-largest trading partner, after the US and the EU (in 2018, 75% of Canada’s total exports went to the US, 8% to the EU, and 5% to China). In 2018, two-way merchandise trade between Canada and China reached $103.2 billion ($27.6 billion in Canadian exports and $75.6 billion in imports). Top exports were oil seeds, wood pulp, mineral ores, wood and related products, and mineral fuels and oils. Top imports from China included electronic machinery and equipment, machinery, furniture, toys and sports equipment and plastics. Through Jan-Nov 2019, total merchandise exports decreased 14.7% year-over-year (YOY) to $20.9 billion, driven by a drop in canola seed, wood pulp and nickel exports; merchandise imports from China decreased by 0.4% YOY to $69 billion. Overall bilateral trade decreased by 4.4% YOY to $85 billion.

Services Trade: Canada’s two-way services trade with China was $10.2 billion in 2018, a 6.1% YOY increase. In 2018, services exports to China were valued at $7.4 billion, while imports from China were valued at $2.8 billion. Through Jan-Sep 2019, services exports to China increased by $480 million YOY, while services imports from China increased by $105 million.

Investment:Two-way foreign direct investment (FDI) between Canada and China was valued at $29.7 billion in 2018 ($30.8 billion for Hong Kong). The stock of Chinese investment in Canada was valued at $16.9 billion in 2018 ($21.8 billion for Hong Kong). A significant but indeterminate share of Hong Kong investment to and from Canada originates from China. Chinese investment remains concentrated in the natural resources sector. However, the share of investment in non-resource sectors (e.g. automotive, aviation, consumer products, ICT, etc.) increased in recent years. Through Jan-Sep 2019, flows of Chinese FDI (equity only) increased by 36.4% YOY.

Tourism:China is Canada’s third largest source of tourists, with 757,205 visitors in 2018. Through Jan-Jul 2019Footnote 2, Destination Canada reports a 6.7% YOY decrease in non-land arrivals from China. This follows two years of record number of visits in 2017 and 2018 and 10 years of double-digit growth.

Education: China is the second largest source of international students to Canada (after India), representing approximately 25% of all international students. There were more than 140,000 Chinese students studying in Canada for six months or more in 2018. This makes Canada the fourth most popular international education destination for Chinese students behind the US, UK and Australia. However, the growth rate in the number of Chinese students studying abroad, and in Canada, is gradually slowing, partially reflecting improvements in China’s education system. According to the Chinese Ministry of Education, 4,322 Canadians pursued studies in China in 2018.

Barriers: Although formal and informal barriers in China create a complex and challenging business environment, China ranks 31st out of 190 in the World Bank’s 2020 ease of doing business rankings, up 15 positions compared to 2019. China still has investment restrictions in many sectors and requires foreign investors to form joint ventures in many industries. These policies serve to protect and promote state-owned and other domestic firms. This is compounded by a lack of transparency and predictability in China’s regulatory environment, inconsistency between government regulations, delays in applications and approval processes, and poor IP protection.

Current Bilateral Tensions

Background:The December 2018 arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Ms. MENG Wanzhou led to a deterioration in Canada-China relations, which is negatively affecting the commercial environment. Canadian industry reports increased scrutiny towards Canadian exports at borders, particularly agricultural goods. Some exporters report a slowdown in sales due to the unwillingness of counterparties to bear risks associated with political and bureaucratic uncertainty. A May 2019 survey published by the Canada-China Business Council (CCBC) canvassed members on impacts felt from the tensions. The survey reported that 18% of Canadian respondents (and 14% of Chinese respondents) experienced cancelled or postponed contracts or investment deals; 48% report they had or may cancel/postpone travel plans; 53% had made changes to their business plans; and roughly 20% were pessimistic about the future of their business with China.

Canola: In March 2019, China suspended canola seed shipments from two major Canadian exporters, Richardson and Viterra, and increased inspection of all Canadian canola seed exports to China, citing alleged discovery of pests. Canada’s canola seed exports to China have since fallen by 70%. Canada has investigated the concerns raised and concluded that the Canadian shipments met China’s import requirements. Canada has repeatedly requested scientific evidence from China to support its findings to no avail. Given the limited progress made through bilateral engagement, on September 9, 2019, Canada requested formal consultations at the WTO; consultations took place on October 28, 2019. Subsequently, at Canada’s request, face-to-face technical meetings to discuss China’s canola seed quarantine and inspection methodology took place in Beijing from December 16–20, 2019. Canada is assessing the information provided by China at the consultations and recent technical discussions to determine next steps. The Government has created a working group comprised of industry and officials from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the CFIA, Global Affairs Canada, and the governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba to discuss options for regaining market access and increasing market diversification.

Pork and Beef:On June 25, 2019, at the request of the General Administration of Customs China (GACC), CFIA stopped issuing export certificates for beef and pork after discovering inauthentic Canadian export certificates issued by unknown parties. CFIA immediately implemented enhanced measures to address the issue. Effective November 5, CFIA resumed issuing export certificates to eligible establishments for compliant beef and pork products processed on or after November 5.

Success Stories

The following is a non-exhaustive list of bilateral commercial success stories for 2019:

Trade Policy Engagement

Possible Canada-China FTA

Canada and China launched exploratory discussions to assess the potential for negotiating a possible FTA in 2016. Four sets of meetings were held in 2017, but differences remain on issues of commercial and policy significance. Recent tensions between Canada and China have complicated prospects to further FTA exploratory discussions. While no formal decision has been taken to suspend FTA exploratory discussions, bilateral tensions and U.S. considerations (i.e. the ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute, CUSMA Article 32.10) will likely preclude progress in the near term.

U.S.–China Trade Dispute [REDACTED]

On December 13, 2019, China and the United States announced the conclusion of negotiations for a “phase one” trade deal. The nine-part deal will include sections on intellectual property, technology transfer, agriculture, financial services, currency, trade expansion, and dispute resolution. In addition, the United States suspended plans to levy tariffs on another US$160 billion worth of Chinese products (List 4B), which would have expanded its tariff coverage to virtually all imports from China. Chinese authorities also suspended planned retaliatory tariffs on key U.S. exports, including vehicles and auto parts.

Since 2018, China and the United States have engaged in series of escalating trade actions against one another. The two countries have levied tariffs on US$546 billion of goods and launched new WTO dispute settlement cases against one another. The escalation of tariffs has resulted in a diversion of trade and investment flows for both countries. The United States has increased imports from South Korea, Mexico, Taiwan, and Vietnam to replace imports from China, which have fallen by 8.7% since October 2018. Similarly, China has increased its imports from Australia, Brazil, Canada, and Russia on goods affected by the retaliatory tariffs against the United States. According to the Office of the Chief Economist, Canadian exports to China for goods affected by the trade dispute have increased by over 30% (or US$3.6 billion) since October 2018. However, recent tensions concerning canola, beef, and pork have hampered exports in key sectors of Chinese demand, where imports from the United States have decreased. The effect of the “phase one” deal on international trade and investment flows is uncertain, and depends on how China and the United States implement their obligations.

Bilateral Engagement

China has chilled relations with Canada since December 1, 2018, significantly reducing high-level bilateral engagement (i.e. at Minister and DM levels). The following high-level interactions have occurred in 2019:

Author’s name/division or mission/tel.: OPC
Approval bureau/mission: OPD
Consulted divisions/missions/departments: OPB, TCA, TPF
Attachments:

Human Rights in China

The promotion and protection of human rights is an integral part of Canadian foreign policy and is a priority in the Government of Canada’s engagement with China. This engagement encompasses high‑level visits, public statements, representations on specific issues and cases of concern, Canadian embassy‑based interventions, outreach to civil society, and advocacy in bilateral and multilateral forums. Canada has consistently called on China to respect, protect and promote the freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of assembly and association, and freedom of religion or belief of all Chinese citizens. Canadian officials continue to raise human rights and rule of law issues with our Chinese counterparts at all levels.

While China’s economic growth has led to overall improvements in the standard of living, there continues to be a worrying decline in civil and political rights. The Chinese government has deployed what may be the most sophisticated and pervasive array of technology for mass surveillance purposes in the world. Media control remains strong in China and freedom of the press and Internet freedoms are severely restricted. Individuals often face harsh criminal sentences for exercising their right to freedom of expression. The Chinese government has also used repressive national security laws to criminalize the peaceful exercise of individual rights to freedom of expression, association, religion and belief—without due process or fair trial rights. Canada has called on China to respect, protect and promote freedom of expression, assembly and association, as well as freedom of religion or belief for all its citizens. It has encouraged China to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Canada has also expressed concerns about the shrinking space for civil society in China. The continued intensification of actions against human rights defenders has been troubling, including against lawyers, journalists and civil society actors. Reports indicate that human rights defenders, writers, reporters, dissidents and their family members have been harassed, detained, tortured and disappeared for variable periods. There is ongoing concern over lawyers' ability to effectively defend human rights cases due to the restricted access to prisoners, politicization of the Chinese judicial system, and increased harassment of lawyers, including through physical intimidation, deregistration and criminal prosecution.

Freedom of religion or belief is also challenged. Amendments to the Regulations for Religious Affairs in 2018 are viewed as [REDACTED] steps to increase control over religious communities in China. Canada is deeply concerned about the ongoing intimidation and repression of ethnic minorities, religious and vulnerable groups in China, including Tibetan Buddhists, Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims, Christians, as well as Falun Gong practitioners.

Canada is deeply concerned by the credible reports of the mass detention of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, based on their religion and ethnicity and under the pretext of countering terrorism. In an August 2018 report, The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racal Discrimination regretted the lack of official data on how many people are in long-term detention or forced to spend varying periods in political “re-education camps”. The Committee noted that estimates have put the number of people detained at anywhere between tens of thousands to over a million. In December 2019, international media reported the cable leak of Chinese government internal documents which detailed the organized repression of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang.

In detention, Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims face obligatory patriotic and cultural education, with reports of torture or other ill-treatment and family separation. Family members of Canadian citizens have disappeared. Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang also face deeply repressive security and mass surveillance practices, including the mass collection of biometric data, coercive police actions, and severe restrictions on movement, with travel documents having been confiscated by the authorities. Canada and other countries have jointly called for unfettered access to Xinjiang for international independent observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Canada also remains deeply concerned about the human rights situation in the Tibet Autonomous Region, including increasing restrictions on the freedom of language, culture and religion; freedom of expression; freedom of movement; destruction of historic buildings, temples and mosques; and forced patriotic education of ethnic Tibetans.

South China Sea - Regional maritime tensions

Issue

Regional tensions between China, its neighbours, and the United States over maritime and territorial claims—especially in the East China Sea (ECS) and the South China Sea (SCS)—undermine regional peace and security.

Canadian position

Other G7 Positions

Background

South China Sea

China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan have competing maritime and territorial claims in the SCS. Indonesia, while not a claimant, is affected by China’s claims which run through its territorial waters near the Natuna Islands. In the ECS, the Senkaku Islands (called the Diaoyu by China), which are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China, have also been a point of significant tension between the two regional powers. These disputes have at times enflamed tensions among regional actors, and raised the spectre of conflict.

With over $5 trillion of the world's trade passing through the SCS alone, an escalation of disputes could have disruptive effects on the global economy and threaten regional stability and security. The SCS is also rich in fish stocks and oil and gas reserves. On a global scale, if actions in the SCS counter to international law are normalized, this can erode the maritime rules-based international order. As a Pacific nation, it is in our national interest to maintain the open and accessible nature of this maritime artery as Canada continues to expand its commercial engagement across Southeast Asia.

China's claims in the SCS are often characterized by a "nine-dash line," which covers over 80 percent of the SCS, and are part of its efforts to secure its periphery. In recent years, Beijing has pursued a more assertive policy to defend its claim through an expanded maritime surveillance and enforcement presence. Over the same timeframe, China also exponentially increased the pace and scale of land reclamation and construction of facilities on maritime features, including small outcroppings, atolls and reefs in disputed areas of the SCS. China has now constructed seven significant military bases on disputed features in the SCS, including the construction of airstrips capable of supporting fighter aircraft and strategic bombers. In 2018, there were public reports of Chinese deployment of missile systems on three Chinese-occupied features in the Spratly Islands. In July 2019, China is reported to have carried out a military exercise in the SCS using anti-ship missiles designed for use against U.S. ships.

U.S. military ships have been operating in the region for years, notably undertaking Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) designed to assert navigational rights and freedoms and to challenge restrictions on “innocent passage” imposed by China and other coastal states. The pace of U.S. FONOPs has increased with the increase of Chinese militarization, and in September 2018, a near collision occurred when a Chinese warship was sent to deter a U.S. warship conducting a FONOP in the SCS. Canada does not have a FONOPs program and has never participated in a U.S. FONOP. However, Canadian navy ships regularly traverse the SCS and ECS when deployed on multinational operations in the Asia-Pacific. Like-minded partners such as the UK, France, Australia and Japan continue to assert their navigation rights through periodic naval deployments in the area.

SCS Code of Conduct Negotiations

Negotiations between ASEAN members and China to establish a SCS Code of Conduct (COC) have progressed with a “Single Draft Negotiating Text” (SDNT) agreed between the parties in August 2018, followed by a commitment to finalize the COC within three years. At the 34th ASEAN Leaders Summit in June 2019, ASEAN committed to an “early” finalization of the COC. Although Canada is encouraged by recent progress between ASEAN member states and China towards a binding COC, there is concern that a binding COC would not reverse actions already taken, and could actually serve to legitimize the military infrastructure that has already been installed on artificial islands in the SCS especially by China.

Reporting suggests there are still significant divisions among the parties, with China pushing for provisions that would restrict the rights of third parties in the SCS. Specifically, China has sought language that forbids ASEAN states and China from conducting joint military exercises with other countries, unless the COC parties are notified beforehand and express no objection. On the SCS’s marine economy, China sought provisions to forbid ASEAN states and China from commercial cooperation with non-regional companies. Such provisions are widely assessed as beneficial to China’s military and commercial interests over those of the smaller ASEAN states. In addition, like-minded countries share Canada’s concern that such provisions could run counter to the rules-based international order and could harm their security and commercial interests.

East China Sea

The ECS dispute between Japan and China centres on the Senkaku/Diaoyu island chain and also reflects China’s efforts to secure its periphery. Tensions were heightened in 2012 when the Japanese government bought the islands from private owners, resulting in de-facto nationalization of the features and sparking large protests in China. Tensions were also exacerbated by the 2013 unilateral declaration by China of an air defence identification zone (ADIZ) in the ECS, also covering the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. Canada issued a Ministerial statement expressing concern following China’s ADIZ announcement. Since 2012/2013, the Japanese government has reported an exponential increase in Chinese naval, coast guard and private vessels entering Japan’s territorial sea and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and in the ECS. The risk of military confrontation between Japan and China over the islands prompted the U.S. to clarify that the islands fall under the scope of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.

Other maritime tensions

Regional territorial and maritime tensions in Northeast Asia are not limited to disputes with China. For example, in July 2019, South Korea's military issued a statement claiming that three Russian and two Chinese military aircraft entered Korea’s Air Defence Identification Zone (KADIZ), with one Russian plane entering its territorial airspace twice. The incident occurred over the disputed Dokdo/Takeshima islands in the Sea of Japan, which are occupied by South Korea but also claimed by Japan. Japan also responded by protesting to both Russia and South Korea via separate diplomatic channels, noting its territorial claims to the islands.

Talking points

Canada-China Arctic relations

Issue

China’s interests in the Arctic region and Canada-China relations on Arctic issues

Positions

Background

In January 2018, China released its Arctic Policy White Paper, presenting China as a “near-Arctic state” whose national interests are affected by environmental, economic and political developments in the Arctic. The White Paper signals China’s intent to position itself as a relevant Arctic stakeholder, and frames increasing Chinese efforts “to understand, protect, develop and participate in the governance of the Arctic.” China has emphasised mutual respect as the key basis for their engagement on Arctic matters. It repeatedly refers to the need to respect and apply international law rules, without however addressing how those rules should be understood in areas where views may differ. Moreover, the concept of a “Polar Silk Road” identifies Arctic economic development opportunities as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Multilateral Engagement

In recent years, China has explicitly vocalised their interest in increasing their role within Arctic governance and decision making bodies. Since China was granted accredited observer status to the Arctic Council (AC) in 2013, it has promoted itself as a “near-Arctic state”, and has been a semi-regular participant at various AC meetings, ensuring its representation in contexts ranging from meetings of Senior Arctic Officials to membership in technical working groups. In addition to the AC, China has also been highly visible at the annual Arctic Circle Assemblies. By building rapport with other Arctic states, China has increased its profile in international Arctic symposia.

The White Paper signals intensifying Chinese efforts to increase its role in regional decision making. Areas for enhanced bilateral and multilateral cooperation include climate change, scientific expeditions, environmental protection, ecosystems, shipping routes, resource development, submarine fiber-optic cables, cultural exchanges, and capacity building.

In October 2018, China was one of five non-Arctic-Ocean-coastal-state negotiating parties to sign a new legally binding agreement to prevent unregulated fishing in the high seas of the central Arctic Ocean. Meanwhile, China is also seeking to build a “common interest base” with other observer states, particularly with Korea and Japan. In 2016 China, Japan and Korea announced a trilateral high-level dialogue to strengthen exchanges on Arctic policies and cooperation in Arctic affairs. China hosted the most recent trilateral dialogue in Shanghai in 2018 where the three countries agreed to prioritise scientific research in the Arctic for cooperation.

Arctic Science Interests

China’s White Paper states its interest to promote scientific research and expedition in the Arctic. It calls for greater involvement of Chinese scientists in international research cooperation, including through international platforms and through academic research networks. [REDACTED].

China prioritizes growing its research capacity by building research stations, vessels, and icebreakers. China currently has 2 permanent research stations in the Arctic, a temporary ice station and a satellite receiving station. China just launched its second icebreaker Xue Long 2 which will enter into service in 2019 and is expected to be used for Arctic expeditions. This complements its other icebreaker, the Xue Long, which has been conducting polar expeditions since 1999. The Xue Long has conducted nine research expeditions to the Arctic. Its first trip through the Northwest Passage was during its eighth expedition in 2017. On that occasion, the Xue Long sought and received clearance prior to entering Canadian waters, in accordance with Canadian rules and regulations. [REDACTED].

Economic Interests

China is positioning itself as an integral stakeholder in the economic development of the Arctic. The potential economic strategic importance of the Arctic, in particular as a trade route for resource development, tourism, and shipping, is of interest to China. The White Paper advances the concept of a “Polar Silk Road,” an Arctic extension of the BRI. It identifies the “Northeast Passage” (i.e. the Northern Sea Route off the coast of Russia), the Northwest Passage and the Central passage (on the high seas) as part of the Arctic shipping routes and expresses its hope “to “work with all parties” to develop the Arctic shipping routes through infrastructure construction, paving the way for commercial voyages and regularised operations. China will participate directly via state-owned enterprises (SOE) and state banks and indirectly by “encouraging” China-based firms to involve themselves”. At present, projects have been focused on the Northeast Passage, the most prominent example being China’s USD $20 billion stake in the Yamal LNG project in Sabetta, Russia. In recent years, China has also increased economic engagement with Northern European states, in particular Denmark, Iceland and Finland, which has led to increased scrutiny of Chinese foreign direct investment in infrastructure projects in these countries.

The White Paper encourages the participation of non-state entities in Arctic affairs, including cooperation in areas such as economic growth, shipping route development and resource utilization. This signals China’s interests in increasing infrastructure and tourism development in the Arctic. [REDACTED].

Canada-China Arctic Relations

Canada’s bilateral engagement with China on Arctic issues has been mainly channeled via the Arctic Council and other multilateral platforms. Canada and China also cooperate on a range of Arctic science and climate change issues through formal mechanisms between Environment and Climate Change Canada and relevant ministries in China such as the Joint Committee on Environmental Cooperation (JCEC). Bilateral cooperation on merchant Arctic shipping, marine policies and initiatives occurs through regularized meetings established by the Canada-China Agreement on Maritime Transport. Canadian diplomatic missions in China have been engaged on Arctic issues and advocacy over the past few years. During Canada’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council, advocacy events were held in 2013 and 2015. In addition, Arctic collaboration between Canadian and Chinese academics is active.

In recent years, China has shown interest in Canada’s Northern infrastructure and natural resource development and directly engaged relevant territorial governments and indigenous groups. Involved firms include prominent State-owned Enterprises (SOE) such as China Minmetals Corporation and the Chinese National Offshore Oil Company. Mixed-ownership enterprises, in which the Chinese government holds significant shares, have also invested in the Canadian north. In 2014, a joint project between one such firm, Jilin Jien Nickel, and Canadian Royalties Inc. transported a full cargo of nickel concentrate unescorted from Northern Quebec to China via the Northwest Passage. [REDACTED].

Approaches of Emerging Development Donors - China

Issue

Through the creation of its China International Development Cooperation Agency and the evolving Belt and Road Initiative, China is articulating its vision of international development, raising concerns among the international community regarding governance, transparency and its potential geo-strategic motivations. 

Background

Development

China announced the establishment of a specialized agency for international development cooperation during the National People’s Congress in March 2018, the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA). The stated intention of the new agency is to enhance the strategic planning and coordination of foreign aid and to “give full play to foreign aid as a means of major country diplomacy.” The creation of CIDCA is expected to have long-term effects on the overall design of China’s foreign aid and is closely linked to the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It is also an important milestone as the decision to establish such an agency speaks to China’s willingness to begin shedding its long-cherished identity as a developing country. While the development assistance role had previously been divided between the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the new agency is independent of both ministries and will report directly to the State Council.

China’s approach to official development assistance is based on the concept of South-South cooperation, which aims to be mutually beneficial and not interfere in domestic affairs. This model presents both complementarities and competition to traditional (i.e. DAC) donors which link aid to performance on issues such as human rights, good governance and environmental stewardship.

China does not officially report development assistance volumes. The most detailed study so far of Chinese aid, published in October 2017 by AidData, found that China gave or lent about USD 350bn between 2000 and 2014—not much less than the total of American aid (USD 424bn). However, where almost all of America’s aid is in the form of grants, only about a fifth of China’s assistance qualifies as official development assistance (ODA) - the remainder of China’s assistance is in the form of concessional lending, largely to Chinese companies working abroad. According to AidData, the main five recipients of Chinese OAD have been Cuba ($6.7 billion), Cote d'Ivoire ($4.0 billion), Ethiopia ($3.7 billion), Zimbabwe ($3.6 billion) and Cameroon ($3.4 billion). Also, the main five recipients of Chinese Other Official Flows (OOF) have been Russia ($36.6 billion), Pakistan ($16.3 billion), Angola ($13.4 billion), Laos ($11.0 billion) and Venezuela ($10.8 billion).

Canada cut direct bilateral aid to China in 2013. A Joint Statement between Canada and China to Develop Cooperation in Third-Party Markets was signed in 2016, but concrete cooperation projects have yet to be identified. Canada has not yet engaged with CIDCA.

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

In late 2013, President Xi Jinping announced a pair of new development and trade initiatives for China and the surrounding region: the “Silk Economic Belt” and the “Twenty-First-Century Maritime Silk Road”; which together are known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This initiative is President Xi’s flagship economic strategy to boost trade and investment with Eurasian, South American and African countries, while simultaneously deepening political ties with the region. The BRI was codified into the Constitution of the Communist Party of China following the 19th Party Congress in October 2017.

President Xi has devoted considerable public attention and financial capital to advance the construction of Chinese-funded infrastructure investments in railways, highways, ports and waterways, pipelines and internet cables in East Asia and beyond. China has invested $573B in the past five years and claims it will invest several trillions more in the BRI over the next 30 years in various infrastructure projects. The majority of Chinese financing is provided through bilateral lending by China’s state-owned policy banks. The Silk Road Fund, a Chinese state investment fund, has allocated US$40 billion in capital to BRI projects. Although not strictly a BRI-specific institution, the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), of which Canada is a member, has supported various infrastructure projects, including BRI projects, mainly in South, Southeast and Central Asia.

The BRI is seen by a number of analysts as having a significant geo-strategic dimension: by creating a network of economic inter-dependencies, China is consolidating its regional leadership and hedging against the United States and its allies in the Asia-Pacific region. It is also creating new and integrating existing supply routes that are key to its continued economic growth. In addition to concerns raised as to whether BRI projects are economically and financially sound, questions have also been raised on whether BRI projects conform to global standards on environmental protection and labour.

A January 2018 CSIS report indicated that 89% of contractors participating in Chinese-funded projects were Chinese companies, and this trend is expected to continue as China expands its footprint in Africa. Chinese-funded infrastructure projects are typically contracted to Chinese companies at every stage from design to construction, with very limited opportunities for local firms/economy. Concerns have also been raised over the fact that Chinese investments are focused predominantly on natural resources extraction with limited investments on value-added activities.

Rising Debt

China has been accused of practicing “debt trap diplomacy” - where a creditor country uses the debt owed to it to promote its strategic commercial and geo-political interests. In August 2018, a group of US senators called on the US to counter “China’s attempts to hold other countries financially hostage and force ransoms that further its geostrategic goals”.

Arguably the strongest signal yet of what could be at stake for partner countries that cannot meet their BRI obligations, the government of Sri Lanka agreed in 2017 to grant China a 99-year lease on the port of Hambantota in exchange for forgiveness of the debts it had incurred to China for investing in a major BRI project. This agreement was convincing evidence to many international observers that the BRI was luring smaller partners into a “debt trap”. In 2018, Malaysia cancelled some $22bn in BRI railway and pipeline projects signed under the previous government, due to its incapacity to support such a debt. Similarly, Pakistan persistently reported to be planning to review agreements reached under the $62bn China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

In Africa, it was reported that the government of Zambia has been in talks with China over a possible takeover of the country's electricity company after defaulting on loan repayment (both Zambia and China have denied media reports). In a September 2018 publication, the Indian Ocean Newsletter claimed that China expressed an interest in acquiring a 40% stake in the state-owned Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Services Enterprise (ESLSE) in return for extending the loan for the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway from 10 to 30 years. Finally, with a $1.72B debt (representing 88% of the country’s GDP) owed to China, Djibouti could be at risk of defaulting on its debt repayment, allowing China to pursue its interest in acquiring control of the country’s highly geo-strategic ports.

China dismisses any such allegations, re-asserting that Chinese trade and investments have been instrumental in boosting the continent’s economy including increasing regional and international trade. President Xi Jinping has pledged debt relief for some poorer countries, although details are unclear. Between 2000 and 2017, China has provided $8.6B in debt relief for 44 indebted countries, although interestingly nearly 70% of it went to Cuba. Thirty-four African countries benefitted ($2.1B) under this debt relief program. By contrast, debt relief provided by Paris Club members totals some $99B for a group of 36 countries, 30 in Africa.

Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation

In an effort to formalize the Belt and Road Initiative, China hosted the inaugural meeting of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation from May 14-15, 2017 in Beijing, China. Over 29 heads of government attended, along with representatives of over 100 countries. The theme of the Forum was “Strengthening International Cooperation and Co-building the ‘Belt and Road’ for Win-win development. Canada was represented by Parliamentary Secretary for International Trade, Pamela Goldsmith-Jones. During the opening ceremony, President Xi announced an additional US$113 billion in BRI funding, including loans, grants, as well as US$8.7 billion in assistance to developing countries.

The second BRF was held April 25-27, 2019 in Beijing. 36 Heads of Government or Heads of State reportedly participated, including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Greece, Switzerland, Russia, Singapore the nine ASEAN countries, and Italy.  During the Economic and Financial Strategic Dialogue (EFSD) in November 2018, Canada committed to sending high level officials to attend the BRF, however the Government of Canada did not receive an invitation to attend. A private invitation was sent to former PM Jean Chrétien, who declined the invitation.

Implications for Canada

Canada has not taken a position on the BRI. While Canada supports opportunities for Canadian companies to engage in global infrastructure initiatives, several concerns have been expressed around transparency, governance and financial sustainability in future Belt and Road Initiative projects. Canada will continue to monitor the evolving nature of this initiative and assess the position of other countries vis-à-vis BRI.

Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi stated that while initially focused on Eurasia and Africa, the BRI is open to all like-minded countries and regions. Chinese officials have noted that Canada can participate, as an investor or partner, given Canada’s expertise and know-how in areas such as green technology and sustainability. A stand-alone Joint Statement between Canada and China to Develop Cooperation in Third-Party Markets was signed in 2016 during Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Canada, but concrete cooperation projects have yet to be identified.

Points to register

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
Development

Author’s name/Division: OPB/Painchaud
Consulted: OPB/Bergeron, Frikah, OPC/Bai
Approved: OPB/Steil
October 31, 2019

Canada-Taiwan relations

Canada-Taiwan bilateral relations

Taiwan Quick Facts

President: Tsai Ing-wen

Premier: Su Tseng-chang

Foreign Minister: Joseph Wu

Economic Affairs Minister: Jong-Chin Shen

Capital: Taipei

Population: 23.6 million

Human Development Index: 27 out of 188 (Source: Taiwan’s government using UNDP 2010 methodology as the UNDP does not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state).

Democracy Index: 32 of 167 (EIU 2018)

Corruption Perception Index: 31 of 180 (TI 2018)

GDP: $589.9 billion

Canada’s Presence in Taiwan

Canadian Trade Office: Taipei

Consulates: None

Honorary Consulates: None

Other Information: Canada does not have official diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Number of Staff: 40 (excluding security)

Number of Canada-Based Staff (CBS): 7

GAC Streams Present: Political, Consular and Trade

Other Departments Present: AAFC; Alberta Office

Bilateral Consultations: Annually at ADM level

Background

Since 1970, Canada’s One China policy has recognized the PRC as the sole legitimate government of China, noting – but not endorsing or challenging – its claims on Taiwan. Although Canada does not have official, government-to-government relations with Taiwan, our shared interests are extensive, and we have been able to maintain unofficial but valuable economic, cultural and people-to-people ties with Taiwan. [REDACTED].

The Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT)

Canada is represented in Taiwan by the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT), a locally incorporated entity staffed by Canadian government employees. CTOT functions in a manner similar to any Canadian Embassy or Consulate abroad, with Canadian and local staff in three main sections: Trade and Investment; Political, Economic and Public Affairs, and Administration and Consular Services. Also present is the Province of Alberta. Quebec closed its office within the CTOT in 2014.

The CTOT facilitates cooperation with Taiwan on trade and investment, science and technology, foreign and public policy issues, education and youth exchanges, arts and cultural industries, and indigenous affairs. Consular and citizenship services are provided to an estimated 60,000 Canadian residents. The latest Taiwanese statistics indicate 117,687 Canadians visited Taiwan in 2017, a 10.8% year-over-year increase. Meanwhile, 103,642 Taiwanese tourists visited Canada in 2017 (Statistics Canada). With Air Canada’s resumption of direct flights between Vancouver and Taipei on June 8, 2017, there is potential for enhanced tourism and people-to-people links between Canada and Taiwan.

Canada-Taiwan Economic Consultations

Canada and Taiwan hold annual economic consultations (led at the ADM-level on the Canadian side and Vice-Minister level on the Taiwanese side) which allow for senior officials to proactively engage on bilateral irritants and seek out new areas for cooperation. The consultations have been effective in guiding Canada-Taiwan relations and have culminated in the signing of numerous Arrangements and Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) in a range of sectors, most recently a MOU on Science and Technology Research and Development between the National Research Council and Taiwan’s Ministry of Science and Technology and an Avoidance of Double Taxation Arrangement (ADTA), which entered into effect on January 1, 2017.

Democratic Development

Following its democratization in 1996, Taiwan became the world’s first and only Chinese-speaking multiparty democracy. In January 2016, Taiwan elected its first woman President, Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and 38% of the members of the Legislative Yuan are women.  In May 2019, Taiwan's lawmakers approved a same-sex marriage bill, making it the first jurisdiction in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. . In support of Canadian priorities such as human rights, inclusion and diversity Canadian Department of Justice officials provided training to Taiwanese officials in the implementation of international human rights standards and the CTOT helped organise a study tour to Canada by Taiwan’s Presidential Office Human Rights Consultative Committee in order to share Canada’s experience with National Human Rights Institutions. Recent visits by Canada’s former Supreme Court Chief Justice in October 2018 and the Director of Canada’s National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in March 2019, Canadian support for the only Chinese-language human rights journal in the world and collaborative initiatives with academia and civil society help to advance women’s, indigenous and LGBTI rights.

Education Cooperation and Youth Mobility

Education cooperation is an important component of our bilateral relationship, especially in the absence of official diplomatic ties. According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Taiwan is ranked as Canada’s 14th largest source of international students with 4,095 Taiwanese long-term students studying in Canada at the end of 2017, a 10.7% year-over year increase from 2016. Canada remains one of the most popular destinations for Taiwanese language students and Taiwan’s Ministry of Education ranked Canada 4th as a study destination (after the US, Australia and Japan) in 2016 with British Columbia and Ontario being the most popular destinations. Canada participates at student fairs to promote Canada as a destination for international students. Through the International Experience Canada (IEC) programme, up to 1,000 young Canadians and up to 1,000 young Taiwanese may live and work in one another’s territories for up to one year. Demand on the Taiwanese side far outstrips the spots available. Fewer Canadian youth have participated in IEC, although many reside in Taiwan as ESL teachers and hence are not captured in these figures.

Immigration and Visas

According to Taiwan’s Overseas Community Affairs Council, there are around 200 000Canadians of Taiwanese descent (2018) living in Canada. However, Taiwan no longer represents a significant source of immigrants to Canada. Taiwanese immigration to Canada has declined in recent years from 2766 Taiwanese immigrants in 2007 to only 791arrivals in 2016. In November 2010, Canada lifted the visa requirement for ordinary Taiwan passport-holders who wish to visit Canada for tourism, to study (up to six months), or to do business. In November 2013, a Visa Application Centre (VAC) opened in Taipei to accept applications for study and work permits, visitor visas (temporary resident visas), and travel documents for permanent residents.

Public Health

Stemming in part from Canada’s contribution to the design of Taiwan’s health system, Canada and Taiwan have a strong basis for cooperation on health issues. Strong links in the health sector continue to be forged, especially in medical research, including through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in December 2014 on bilateral health research collaboration between the Canadian Institute of Health Research and the Department of International Cooperation and Science Education of Taiwan’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

Taiwan’s international participation

Canada supports Taiwan’s participation in international organizations where there is a practical imperative and where Taiwan’s absence would be detrimental to global interests.  Canada and Taiwan for example cooperate in multilateral organizations where both are represented, including APEC, the WTO and regional fisheries management organizations. Between 2009 and 2016, Taiwan attended the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer,[REDACTED]. Taiwan also participated as a guest at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) triennial Assembly in 2013 and more recently as an observer at the Kimberley Process (to eradicate conflict diamonds) in 2018.

Since 2016, following an election that propelled the pro-independence leaning DPP to power, China has successfully applied political pressure to restrict Taiwan’s ability to participate in a range of international organizations. For instance, Taiwan was unable to participate in the WHA or the ICAO Assembly in 2019 due to pressure from the Mainland. Canada and other like-minded countries however continue to support for Taiwan’s meaning participation in fora where global interests are affected. These efforts have been focused on enabling Taiwan to participate as an observer as a means of avoiding potential concerns over issues relating to diplomatic recognition and sovereignty. With the re-election of incumbent Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP in the presidential and legislative elections in January 2020, Beijing has signalled that it remains firmly opposed to any and all forms of Taiwan independence and will not be adjusting its Taiwan policy in light of this most recent development across the Strait.

Indigenous Affairs

With sizeable indigenous populations, Canada and Taiwan share common interests with regard to indigenous issues and boast strong people-to-people linkages between indigenous communities. Following a 2016 presidential apology to Taiwan’s indigenous peoples, Taiwan has launched an indigenous transitional justice process.  Canada’s Director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation traveled to Taiwan in 2019 as there is considerable interest in learning from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) experience.  A Chinese version of Canada’s TRC report is slated to be released shortly in Taiwan.  The previous Canada-Taiwan MOU on Indigenous cooperation was not renewed in 2018 due to changes in INAC’s mandate and the Prime Minister’s emphasis of a Nation to Nation relationship between the Government of Canada and First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples.  I CTOT is now focused on supporting a series of new MOU’s between Indigenous peoples in Canada and their Taiwanese counterparts.  For example, Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples Television Network is close to signing a new MOU with Taiwan Indigenous Television to promote the exchange of indigenous programming.

Culture

Canada and Taiwan have a long and rich history of cultural exchanges between our peoples. In 2017/18, with the return of cultural funding, CTOT began re-establishing relationships with groups in the areas of books, film, music, visual and performing arts to promote Canadian arts and artists and to advance Canadian values and Government of Canada priorities.  Canada enjoys an extremely positive image in the area of culture in Taiwan with Canadian artists seen as both innovative and international and their work often opening major festivals.  CTOT is supporting key Canadian cultural industries in the Taiwanese market which provides a vibrant, progressive, safe and creative space for artists from around the world. CTOT further promotes Canada’s rich bilingual history through its active participation in and promotion of La célébration de la Francophonie à Taiwan.

Drafted: OPB:Lu
Approved: OPB/Bergeron

Canada-Taiwan commercial relations

Background

Taiwan is affected by the ongoing trade friction between China and the USA and has seen significant structural change in their economy occur over the last year. Dramatic shifts have occurred in trade flows as exports to the USA and Japan have increased at double-digit rates, while exports to China have dropped significantly. These changes, along with a significant increase in domestic investment by Taiwanese high technology firms that have drawn back capital from the mainland, lend support to the hypothesis that we are witnessing the start of a historical shift in global supply chains.

In 2018, Taiwan’s GDP was $764.2 billion and its population was 23.6 million. Its per capita GDP of $32,379 in 2018 was 39th in the world and 12th highest in Asia. Taiwan is recognized for its critical role in global Information Communications Technology (ICT) supply chains, serving as a contract manufacturer for major foreign brands of consumer electronics. Taiwan’s economy grew by 2.6% in 2018 and 2.0% in 2019 and is forecast to grow by 1.9% in 2020 (IMF WEO, October 2019). However, in January the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) announced strong GDP growth of 3.38% in the fourth quarter of 2020. Over the medium term Taiwan faces a significant demographic challenge. The National Development Council forecasts that in 2022 Taiwan’s population will begin to shrink.

Canada-Taiwan trade and economic relations

In the absence of official relations with Taiwan, Canada operates through the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei, and Taiwan has the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Ottawa. Canada also has a complementary and growing trade and economic relationship with Taiwan, based on robust business-to-business ties, shared values and significant science, technology and innovation collaboration.

The annual Canada Taiwan Economic Consultation (CTEC) allows senior officials from both sides to discuss market access issues and new areas for bilateral cooperation. The most recent consultations were held in Ottawa in November 2019. The CTEC consultations have led to the signing of many bilateral agreements, including a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on a Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) between the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) and the Taiwan Intellectual Property office (TIPO) in January 2018 and an MOU on Science and Technology Research and Development between the National Research Council and Taiwan’s Ministry of Science and Technology signed in August 1997. Since Canada regained access to the Taiwanese beef market in July 2016 there have been no major bilateral trade irritants.

Merchandise trade (to be updated with 2019 data in mid-February)

Taiwan is currently Canada’s 13th largest merchandise trading partner and fifth-largest trading partner in Asia. In 2018, total Canada-Taiwan bilateral merchandise trade reached $7.87 billion, an increase of 10.2% year-on-year. Canadian merchandise exports were valued at almost $2 billion, an increase of 17.5% from 2017 and merchandise imports were valued at nearly $5.9 billion, an increase of 8.0% from 2017. As a result, Canada’s trade deficit with Taiwan increased to nearly $3.9 billion. The top five Canadian exports to Taiwan were mineral fuels and oils, ores, wood, meat and zinc. Top imports from Taiwan were electronics and electrical machinery and equipment, machinery, iron and steel products, motor vehicles and parts, and plastics.

Investment

Two-way investment between Canada and Taiwan remains underdeveloped in the context of Canada’s overall inward and outward foreign direct investment (FDI). At the end of 2018 the two-way investment stock stood at $404 million – Taiwanese FDI in Canada of $76 million and Canadian direct investment in Taiwan of $328 million. That said, the actual stock of two-way Canada-Taiwan investment is likely considerably larger than the official figures as investment flows through third markets are not captured by this data.

According to the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei, more than 30 Canadian companies have operations in Taiwan, mainly in the sectors of transportation, aerospace and air services, fashion and consumer goods, ICT, clean energy and environmental services. In the past two years a number of major Taiwanese ICT companies have made significant strategic equity investments in Canadian digital health, robotics and virtual reality start-ups. There has also been strong interest and success from Canadian companies such as Northland Power, Bombardier Transportation and Canadian pension funds in bidding for large multi-billion dollar projects in growing sectors of the Taiwanese economy (transportation, financial services and clean energy, especially offshore wind).

On January 1, 2017, the Avoidance of Double Taxation Arrangement (ADTA) entered into effect and is expected to further promote investment in both Taiwan and Canada.

Innovation and technology partnerships

Canada’s science, technology and innovation linkages with Taiwan are strong. The National Research Council (NRC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), the Communications Research Centre (CRC), Canadian universities, and a selection of research-intensive private-sector players have fostered strong ties with key Taiwanese counterparts, including the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), and the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI). Examples of recent success in this area include the CRC and Taiwan MOU on Telecommunications Cooperation signed in January 2016, and ongoing joint NRC and Taiwan collaboration in a variety of fields including vaccine and medical device collaboration through the renewal of their MOU in 2017. Future collaboration will focus on Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled healthcare and medical devices. The 2018 CIPO-TIPO MoU on Patent Prosecution Highway will accelerate patent registrations and promote further R&D collaboration between Canada and Taiwan. At the 2019 CTEC meeting, Canada and Taiwan agreed on a Year of Canadian-Taiwanese Innovators in 2020 to deepen science, technology and innovation cooperation.

Cleantech (Post)

Taiwan’s interest in clean technology and its efforts to develop renewable energy present opportunities for Canadian cleantech firms. For example, since 2016 Canada’s Northland Power Inc. (NPI) has been working with Yushan Energy Co. Ltd. and Mitsui, on a major offshore wind farm project in the Taiwan Strait. Once the project is completed it will represent a total investment of approximately $8 billion, making it one of Canada’s largest overseas energy/infrastructure projects.

Trade policy and regional integration

Taiwan has publicly expressed interest in acceding to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and has undertaken a number of domestic legislative and regulatory changes to prepare for a potential accession. Taiwan is [REDACTED] advancing its negotiations of bilateral investment treaties (BITs) with its major trading partners, including most recently with Japan (2012), China (2013), the Philippines (2018), and India (2019). [REDACTED] Taiwan’s interest in pursuing an active trade policy agenda is likely motivated, in part, by a desire to maintain its position in regional supply chains.

Briefing Note: G7 Rapid Response Mechanism

Issue

The G7 Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM), announced by Leaders at the G7 Summit in Charlevoix in June 2018 and endorsed by Ministers at Dinard in April 2019, is mandated to strengthen G7 coordination in identifying and responding to diverse and evolving foreign threats to G7 democracies.  In recognition of Canadian leadership at the G7, Canada coordinates the RRM on an ongoing basis.

Canadian position

Background

G7 Foreign and Security Ministers discussed contemporary threats to democracy extensively leading up to the 2018 G7 Leaders’ Summit. In this context, they reached a common understanding of unacceptable actions by foreign actors during a meeting in Toronto in April 2018, reflected in the Toronto Commitment. Building on this work, G7 Leaders committed to standing up the G7 RRM at the Charlevoix Summit in June 2018. The mandate of the RRM is to strengthen G7 coordination to identify and respond to diverse and evolving threats to G7 democracies, including through sharing information and analysis, and identifying opportunities for coordinated response.

The RRM consists of Focal Points from G7 members, including the EU, responsible for delivering on the Charlevoix commitment. Each Focal Point is positioned to leverage its own national or institutional structures and processes. In recognition of Canadian leadership at the G7, Canada coordinates the RRM on an ongoing basis. To operationalise the RRM and ensure its smooth functioning, the RRM Coordination Unit (Unit) was stood-up at Global Affairs Canada within the International Security and Political Affairs Branch.

The Unit has two primary functions. First, it serves as a permanent secretariat to the RRM, coordinating and convening the RRM Focal Points.  Second, the Unit supports the Canadian Focal Point and ensures whole-of-government engagement with the RRM. To clearly distinguish the two functions, activities in support of the Canadian Focal Point are designated as RRM Canada activities.

Coordination and Leadership of the RRM

To fulfill its secretariat functions, the Unit triages and shares information across the RRM and regularly convenes the Focal Points. The Unit is also responsible for identifying opportunities for coordinated response based on assessment and consultation with RRM Focal Points. The Unit works closely with G7 Presidencies to ensure continued engagement in the RRM.  France, as the current G7 President, has put threats to democracies at the centre of its agenda for the 2019 Biarritz Summit and is working closely with Canada to reinforce the RRM network.

The information shared across the RRM is used to develop a better understanding of the evolving threat environment. This will help the RRM to anticipate, identify and respond to foreign threats. In recognition of the global nature of the phenomenon, the Unit is building a broader network of like-minded countries and experts beyond the G7 for information and analysis sharing purposes. One of the tools the Unit uses to share information about the threat environment is a monthly Wire.

RRM approaches and initiatives are informed by multilateral cooperation as well as close coordination with similar initiatives taking place within the context of countering foreign threats and/or interference. The RRM does not duplicate existing efforts, but rather leverages the global position of the G7 as a grouping of the world’s most advanced economies and long-standing democracies. As such, the RRM is rooted in common democratic values of respect for fundamental freedoms, human rights, and a commitment to peace and security.

RRM Canada

Besides its secretariat functions, the Unit supports the Canadian Focal Point and maintains a Canada-based network of interlocutors to ensure whole-of-government engagement with the RRM. These responsibilities take place under the RRM Canada umbrella. In support of the Canadian Focal Point, RRM Canada produces reports on threat patterns and trends and leverages an open source data analytics capacity. RRM Canada’s open source data analytics is subject to an ethical and methodological framework to ensure that it is politically neutral and that it respects and reinforces human rights and freedoms.

RRM Canada plays an essential role in leveraging structures across the Government of Canada by working closely with Canada’s security and intelligence organizations and other relevant Government of Canada Departments, including Democratic Institutions and Canadian Heritage. This collaboration ensures that information from international partners pertaining to foreign threats to democracy is efficiently shared and used to benefit Canadians.

In the lead up to the Canadian federal election in October 2019, RRM Canada represented Global Affairs Canada at the Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections Task Force. The Task Force worked to prevent covert, clandestine, or criminal activities from influencing or interfering with the electoral process in Canada. Besides Global Affairs Canada, it included the Communications Security Establishment, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The role of RRM Canada in the Task Force was to act as an early warning system by providing open source data analytics pertaining to threats to democracy and leveraging the RRM network in terms of information exchange and potential response.

Progress

The RRM is now fully operationalised and RRM Canada has incorporated its activities within broader Government of Canada efforts aimed at safeguarding the Canadian 2019 Federal Election and beyond.  Focal Points have met three times since June 2018.  The inaugural meeting of the RRM took place from November 5-6, 2018, in Ottawa. The 2nd RRM meeting took place in Paris from March 18-19, 2019.  Co-organized by Canada and France, the meeting focussed on negotiating communications principles, developing an action plan for 2019, and drafting the progress report prepared for ministers in advance of their meeting in Dinard, France, on April 5-6, 2019. The third RRM meeting took place in Ottawa on November 13, 2019, and focussed on developing an action plan for 2020.

The RRM mandate and its progress report were endorsed by Ministers at Dinard in 2019. Information related to foreign threats is now systematically flowing through the RRM network. Upon request from Australia, Lithuania, New Zealand and the Netherlands to engage with the RRM, it has been agreed by RRM Focal Points to include these countries in the information sharing aspects of the network. This information sharing also includes a growing community of experts, currently comprised of over 100 specialists working in this space.

In recognition of the important role digital context plays in foreign interference, Canada, along with the UK, launched the Global Community of Practice for Open Source Data Monitoring and Analysis (Community of Practice) in London on June 19, 2019. The purpose of this community of practice is to enable open source data analysts from across the G7, as well as other like-minded governments and organizations, to share best practices in detecting and analyzing foreign threats to democracy in digital contexts in support of the RRM mandate.

Additionally, the symposium on Foreign Threats to Democracy in the Digital Age: Understanding Challenges, Formulating Responses was held on November 12, 2019 at Global Affairs Canada. Organized under the auspices of RRM Canada, with notable support from the European Union, United Kingdom, the Netherland and Australia, the symposium took place on the margins of the bi-annual G7 RRM Focal Points meeting. During the same week, Global Affairs Canada hosted the Fourth Annual Adversarial Intent Symposium on Foreign Political Interference, which was organized in partnership with the Royal Military College of Canada and the Development Research and Development Canada.

Updated on November 18, 2019

Talking Points

Responsive

Date: December 12, 2020

Canada-Hong Kong relations

Canada-Hong Kong bilateral relations

Background

Canada has a special partnership with Hong Kong due to our extensive commercial, institutional and people-to-people ties. Canada and Hong Kong have no bilateral trade irritants and enjoy strong cooperation in several key areas, including: trade and investment, extradition, mutual legal assistance and public health. Multilaterally, Canada and Hong Kong cooperate in international organizations, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and the World Trade Organization. Hong Kong is also a member of the Financial Stability Board and attends regular meetings to exchange views on potential vulnerabilities in the international financial system.

People-to-people Ties and Shared Commonwealth Heritage

Hong Kong boasts one of the largest Canadian communities abroad, estimated at 300,000 people and some 200 Canadian companies. This community, along with some 185,000 Canadian-educated Hong Kong residents, plays a key role in our bilateral relationship. The involvement of 1,975 Canadian soldiers in the Battle of Hong Kong in 1941, 550 of whom gave their lives, is commemorated in a major ceremony each December at the Sai Wan War Cemetery. Canada and Hong Kong also share a Commonwealth heritage, with commitment to values, including the rule of law and freedom of expression, which constitute essential components of Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity.

There have been many high-level Canadian visits to Hong Kong: In September 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Hong Kong, accompanied by then-Minister of International Trade Chrystia Freeland. The PM’s program included a meeting with then-Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and a visit to the Sai Wan War Cemetery to honour fallen Canadian soldiers. A key outcome of this visit was the joint announcement of the entry into force of the Canada-Hong Kong Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA).

During March 2018 visit to Hong Kong, then Minister of International Trade Champagne met with the Secretary of Commerce and Economic Development, Edward Yau, the Chairman and Chief Executive of Johnson Electric, and the Vice President of Domtar Asia Ltd. amongst others. The meetings provided the Minister with an opportunity to address the Canada-Hong Kong relationship and promote Canada as a partner for innovation, and a destination for foreign direct investment. Minister Morneau also visited Hong Kong on March 29, 2018, and Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion Mary Ng on September 21, 2018. Mr. Joseph Fried, Coordinator, International Economic Relations and Personal Representative of the Prime Minister for the G20 also visited Hong Kong in February 2019. More recently, Minister Carr met Secretary Yau on the margins of the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) meeting on May 17, 2019.

Several provincial Premiers have also recently visited Hong Kong, including: then-Premier Wynne of Ontario (2015, 2017), then-Premier Christy Clark of British Columbia (2015), then-Premier Brian Gallant of New Brunswick (2016) and Premier Stephen McNeil of Nova Scotia (2016, 2017). Former Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin visited Hong Kong for a week-long program in March 2016, and is now sitting as a non-permanent common-law judge on the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal. Former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Madame Louise Arbour visited Hong Kong in May 2016.

Trade and investment

In 2018, Hong Kong ranked as Canada’s tenth largest market for merchandise exports. Canada exported $3.9 billion in merchandise to Hong Kong, and imported $342.2 million. Major Canadian exports to Hong Kong are precious stones and metals (mainly gold in unwrought form), ginseng roots, fish & seafood, meat, nickel, aircraft, and telecom related products.

Reflecting the growing importance of services to Hong Kong’s economy, in 2018 Hong Kong ranked seventh as a global destination for Canadian exports of services, totalling $2.2 billion, a 13.5% increase from 2016. Canadian service providers excel in a diverse range of sectors such as finance, engineering, information technology and professional services. For the 12 months to October 2019, Canadian services receipts from Hong Kong (exports) were $1.8 billion, down from 2018 levels. For the same period, payments (for services imports) were $5,3 billion, leading to services trade deficit with Hong Kong of $3.5 billion.

Hong Kong is a major investment partner for Canada. In 2018, Hong Kong represented the 7th largest source of FDI in Canada. The total stock of Canadian direct and portfolio investment in Hong Kong was $9.1 billion. Hong Kong’s total direct investment in Canada was $21.8 billion in 2018.

Accountable governance, democratic development and human rights

In line with our commitment to the universality of human rights, Canada has continuously monitored developments in this area since Hong Kong’s handover to China on July 1, 1997. Hong Kong is home to a significant community of academics and NGOs who are active on human rights, not only with regard to Hong Kong and Macao, but also to mainland China. Hong Kong is thus a privileged centre of expertise on human rights and a strategic listening post for the human rights situation in the region. Canada leverages these unique features to advance human rights priorities in the region.

Large-scale protests erupted in June 2019 in response to changes proposed by the Hong Kong authorities to its extradition laws that would have allowed case-by-case extradition to all jurisdictions, including mainland China. Despite the announcement that the extradition bill was suspended on June 15, and fully withdrawn on October 23, protests have continued with broader demands and increasingly violent clashes between a minority of protesters and security forces. Anxiety over the loss of Hong Kong’s autonomy and its basic freedoms and lack of trust in Beijing has sustained the movement (see separate note “Political and Economic Overview”).

Universities

There are many institutional links between Canadian and Hong Kong universities in areas such as health research, information technology, engineering, and general dual-degree programs. Five Canadian universities have full time offices in Hong Kong, which is an important location for alumni fundraising, student recruitment and academic partnerships. Data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), show that a total of 2,445 study permits were approved in 2018 for students from Hong Kong. There are twenty-nine active Canadian university alumni chapters in Hong Kong, which also continues to be a significant source of international students.

The Consulate General of Canada

With close to 150 employees, the Consulate General is one of Canada’s largest missions abroad. It is the Government of Canada’s largest passport and citizenship service delivery operation outside of Canada. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canada Border Services Agency both maintain offices at the Consulate General, working actively with local and allied counterparts on issues of migration integrity and anti-crime cooperation. Canada has treaties for extradition and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters with Hong Kong. The Alberta and British Columbia governments have standalone offices in Hong Kong, and Ontario has established a new senior local office position to be co-located in the consulate’s trade section.

Political Unrest in Hong Kong

Issue

In June 2019, large-scale protests erupted in response to changes proposed by the Hong Kong authorities to local extradition laws that would have allowed case-by-case extradition to all jurisdictions, including mainland China. Despite the announcement that the extradition bill has been withdrawn, protests have continued with increasingly violent clashes between a minority of protesters and security forces. Anxiety over the loss of Hong Kong’s autonomy and its basic freedoms and lack of trust in Beijing has sustained the movement.

Background

Political Unrest

Hong Kong is experiencing the largest-scale protests in its history in response to changes to the Special Administrative Region’s (SAR) extradition laws introduced in April 2019. If passed, the legislation would have allowed case-by-case extradition to all jurisdictions, including to mainland China. Despite the announcement by Hong Kong authorities that the extradition bill was suspended on June 15, protests have continued between a minority of protesters and security forces. The situation deteriorated steadily over the summer, with weekly clashes and a significant number of protesters arrested.

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the full withdrawal of the bill on September 4. However, protesters remain unsatisfied and mistrustful, holding the line on their remaining four demands: Lam’s resignation; an inquiry into police use of excessive force; cessation of the use of the term “rioters” to describe protesters; and a re-opening of dialogue on the introduction of universal suffrage. Thus far, authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing have not conceded to any of these demands, instead issuing messages of condemnation, including references to protests as “terrorism”.

In reaction to violent clashes during China’s national day celebrations on October 1, the Hong Kong authorities have invoked special powers under the Emergency Regulations Ordinance to ban face masks during protests. The move comes amid rising tensions between police and protesters after an officer shot an 18 years old student during a clash. Subsequent escalation of tensions has seen increased number of attacks targeting individuals, mainly key protester figures but also pro-Beijing activists have been noted in the fall 2019.

International reactions

There are major concerns among like-minded countries regarding a potential intervention in the dispute by mainland China’s security forces. Concerns have also been expressed about Beijing’s narrative intimating foreign involvement in the crisis. [REDACTED]. Hong Kong is also an indispensable investment channel for China, providing 65% of FDI flow. Alongside other economic factors, the crisis has weakened Hong Kong’s economy: the SAR’s GDP growth forecast (for 2019) recently dropped to 0-1 percent, down from previous estimate of 2-3 percent. Hong Kong’s credit rating has also been downgraded by major credit agencies, citing factors including the risk of Hong Kong’s absorption into China’s legal system.

Many like-minded have raised their concerns with authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing and through public statements, urging dialogue and preservation of the SAR’s high degree of autonomy and basic freedoms. For their part, Hong Kong and Beijing have condemned the protests and framed the unrest as a security question connected to economic issues rather than a political issue, as indicated in Carrie Lam’s policy address of October 16. Hong Kong authorities have, however, launched a dialogue process which, if deemed credible by protest leaders, may provide a path towards peaceful resolution. [REDACTED].

Erosion of “One Country, Two Systems”

Enshrined in the Joint Declaration governing the U.K.’s handover of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China, the “One Country, Two Systems” framework guaranteed Hong Kong its own political and legal systems, economic autonomy, and respect for its citizens’ human rights for 50 years after its return to China in 1997. Under the declaration, China’s central government maintains responsibility for foreign relations and national defence. To date, the arrangement has operated relatively well in preserving Hong Kong’s institutions. However, an erosion of the policy has been observed since 1997, as Beijing’s interventions in local affairs (particularly politics and freedom of expression) have become increasingly bold.

Concerns about human rights have also grown since the August 2017 sentencing of three young activists on charges related to the 2014 pro-democracy demonstrations, and banning of politicians who challenge Beijing’s views from running in local elections. In response, the international community including Canada publically expressed concern that these moves were meant to dissuade legitimate political movements.

Canada’s reactions

The unrest is being monitored very closely by the international community, including Canada. With 300,000 Canadians living in Hong Kong, Canada has a vested interest in Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity – the foundation of which is Hong Kong’s relative autonomy and basic freedoms.

In a joint demarche [REDACTED] on May 29, Canadian officials in Hong Kong raised serious questions with Chief Executive Carrie Lam regarding the proposed amendments to extradition laws. Canada also expressed its concerns in a joint statement with the United Kingdom on May 30, and in a separate national statement on June 12. On August 17, Canada issued a joint statement with the European Union. Calling on all parties to reject violence and take urgent steps to de-escalate the situation..

On August 8, Global Affairs Canada updated its advice for Canadians travelling to Hong Kong. The update recommends that Canadians exercise a high degree of caution when travelling to Hong Kong due to ongoing large-scale demonstrations and potential violence. It follows a similar decision by the US (Aug. 7), Australia (Aug. 7) and New Zealand (Aug. 8).

[REDACTED]. Canada’s recommendation in the Human Rights Council’s 2018 Universal Periodic Review of China: “Ensure the right of the Hong Kong people to take part in government, without distinction of any kind”. Canada noted that limiting eligibility to run in elections is counter to the 2018 UPR recommendation, which was accepted by China.

Talking points

Drafted: OPB/Painchaud
Consulted: OPB, OPC, HKONG
Approved: OGM

Canada-Hong Kong commercial relations

Background

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Hong Kong) is an important trade and investment partner for Canada. Owing to its rule of law (including intellectual property rights protection) and favourable business environment, Hong Kong acts as an international financial centre and a platform for Canadian companies to access mainland China and other Asian markets, especially for small and medium sized enterprises that tend to be more risk-adverse. Partnering with Hong Kong firms provides access to well-developed Hong Kong sales and retail networks that have been established throughout the mainland.

However, large-scale protests erupted in June 2019, originally over a proposed law (since withdrawn) that would have allowed extradition to other jurisdictions, including China. The protests and other factors such as the U.S.-China trade dispute have also taken a toll on Hong Kong’s economy. So far, two out of three major credit rating agencies have downgraded Hong Kong’s sovereign debt rating (Fitch on September 5, 2019 to AA, and Moody’s on January 20, 2020 to Aa2). In November 2019, retail sales fell 10.3%. This was the 10th straight month of declining retails sales versus the previous year. Hong Kong’s tourism, real estate and manufacturing sectors have also been severely affected. While fourth quarter numbers have not yet been released, GDP is forecasted to have shrank again in October-December, for the third quarter running.

Hong Kong’s economy has been in recession since Q3 2019. The IMF estimates that Hong Kong’s GDP fell 1.9% in 2019, and forecasts growth of just 0.2% in 2020. Further to advice from the IMF, the government of Hong Kong has implemented four rounds of stimulus measures so far. However, as of November 2019 these stimulus measures amounted to only HK $25 billion (US $3.2 billion), or less than 1% of Hong Kong’s GDP.

The signing into law by President Trump on November 27 of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act adds uncertainty, as it would require annual assessments of whether the city is sufficiently autonomous from Beijing to justify its unique treatment, including duty free status, under U.S. law.

Trade Flows

In 2018, Hong Kong ranked as Canada’s tenth largest market for merchandise exports. Canada exported $3.9 billion in merchandise to Hong Kong, and imported $342.2 million. Major Canadian exports to Hong Kong are precious stones and metals (mainly gold in unwrought form), ginseng roots, fish & seafood, meat, nickel, aircraft, and telecom related products.

Services

Reflecting the growing importance of services to Hong Kong’s economy, in 2018 Hong Kong ranked seventh as a global destination for Canadian exports of services, totalling $2.2 billion, a 13.5% increase from 2016. Canadian service providers excel in a diverse range of sectors such as finance, engineering, information technology and professional services. For the 12 months to October 2019, Canadian services receipts from Hong Kong (exports) were $1.8 billion, down from 2018 levels. For the same period, payments (for services imports) were $5.3 billion, leading to services trade deficit with Hong Kong of $3.5 billion.

Investment

Hong Kong is a major investment partner for Canada. In 2018, Hong Kong represented the 7th largest source of FDI in Canada. the total stock of Canadian direct and portfolio investment in Hong Kong was $9.1 billion. Hong Kong’s total direct investment in Canada was $21.8 billion in 2018.

Financial Hub

While China still has extensive capital controls and often intervenes in its financial markets and banking system, Hong Kong is one of the most open economies in the world and one of the biggest markets for equity and debt financing. The size of Hong Kong’s economy may only be equivalent to 2.7% of mainland China’s, but the territory punches above its weight due to its world-class financial and legal systems under the “One Country, Two Systems” framework. These capabilities give Hong Kong a special status internationally, allowing foreign investors to have more faith in Hong Kong’s legal and governance systems than mainland China’s, which are ultimately accountable to the Communist Party.

China uses Hong Kong’s currency, equity and debt markets to attract foreign funds, while international companies use Hong Kong as a launch pad to expand into mainland China. The bulk of foreign direct investment in China continues to be channelled through the city. Most of China’s biggest firms, from state-owned enterprises like Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, to private firms like Tencent Holdings, are listed in Hong Kong, often as a springboard to global expansion. In 2018, Chinese companies raised US$64.2 billion globally - almost a third of the worldwide total - via initial public offerings, but just US$19.7 billion of that came from listings in Shanghai or Shenzhen, according to data from Refinitiv, compared with US$35 billion raised in Hong Kong.

“Connect” schemes linking the Hong Kong stock exchange with those in Shanghai and Shenzhen also provide the main gateway for foreigners to buy mainland stocks. Chinese businesses also tapped Hong Kong’s debt market for 33% of their US$165.9 billion in offshore U.S. dollar funding in 2018, Refinitiv data shows. Chinese banks hold more assets in Hong Kong — US$1.1 trillion in 2018 — than lenders from any other region, according to Hong Kong Monetary Authority data compiled by Natixis.

Internationalizing the Renminbi (RMB)

Hong Kong has been pivotal to China’s longer-term ambition to turn the RMB into a widely-used international currency, competing with the US dollar. While still a long way off, achieving that goal would increase the world’s stake in China’s success, as well as Beijing’s influence abroad.

The process of internationalizing the Renminbi through Hong Kong offers a number of opportunities for Canadian businesses. Canadian financial institutions in Hong Kong are already expanding their portfolio of products and services for trade and lending in RMB. The launch of the Canadian Renminbi Clearing Centre & Trading Hub in 2015, the allocation of RMB 50 billion ($10.23 billion) under the Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (RQFII) scheme, and the signing of a currency swap worth RMB 200 billion ($40.9 billion) between the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) and the Bank of Canada will create additional opportunities for Canadian financial institutions. Canadian firms engaged in China can use the Hong Kong-based RMB bond market as a way of financing their Chinese operations without incurring the currency risk of borrowing U.S. dollars. Canadian firms trading with China are exploring the costs and benefits of dealing in RMB rather than U.S. dollars.

The continued inclusion of China’s bond market in global indices is driving bond market inflow to HK from foreign financial market participants, creating opportunities for Canadian financial institutions to participate. In recent years, various access programs have been implemented to promote the opening up of China’s bond market. These include the Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (QFII) designation, the Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (RQFII) designation, China interbank bond market (CIBM) “panda bond” issuance, and Bond Connect. These bond access programs were rolled out at different times but older ones were not phased out. This introduced various inconveniences for foreign institutional investors, and at the same time forced participants to rely on the offshore Renminbi spot market to facilitate their onshore bond exposure. However, the offshore Renminbi spot market pool is too small and too volatile, creating higher hedging costs.

More reform efforts on offshore Reminibi and bond access are likely, which may have further implications for Canadian firms trading with China or for financial institutional seeking access to Remminbi bond market opportunities.

Greater Bay Area (GBA)

The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) comprises the two Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macao, and the nine municipalities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Huizhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing in Guangdong Province. The total area is around 56 000 square km. At end 2018, the GBA had a GDP of US$1.643 billion and a total population of over 71 million. In 2017, if the GBA had been a country, its GDP would have placed it just ahead of Australia as the world’s 12th largest economy.

The key challenge the GBA initiative is facing relates to how to maintain “One Country, Two Systems” in Hong Kong and Macao, while still bringing about greater integration in the GBA. HKONG has identified three aspects of the GBA initiative that are most relevant for Canada. First is the data/information flow and electronic integration of the GBA. HKONG believes that the implementation of the digital global supply chain is a high priority among China’s GBA objectives, and one that will have implications for information flow and cross-border fintech services development. Second is transportation development in the GBA, where a welcoming attitude towards foreign investments has been expressed. Third is the movement of people in the GBA. HKONG has observed Chinese government commenters framing the issue around the colonial history of Hong Kong and Macau, and the subsequent “One Country, Two Systems” framework as an impediment to people movement in the region to which GBA policies will provide a solution. At the same time, business has responded to trade conflict between the U.S. and China by moving their China operations to Southeast Asia. Facilitating the movement of youth in the GBA has been portrayed by both the Chinese and Hong Kong governments as opening up job opportunities for youth, a point of contentious debate in Hong Kong.

Development of the GBA will imply both risk and opportunities for Canada. Hong Kong businesses and people have historically been open to businesses and career opportunities inside and outside of China. [REDACTED].

Trade Policy [REDACTED]

The Hong Kong-Canada Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement, which enjoys strong support from the business communities in Canada and Hong Kong, came into force in October 2013. In June 2015, Canada signed a mutual cooperation arrangement with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council with the goal of enhancing bilateral cooperation on trade and investment promotion activities. On September 6, 2016, the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection agreement (FIPA) between Canada and Hong Kong officially entered into force. Canada and Hong Kong are members of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). There is no Free Trade Agreement between Canada and Hong Kong.

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Government of Canada engagement with China

Issue

Relations with the People’s Republic of China are of strategic interest to Canada. Despite current difficulties, cooperation with China on issues of direct bilateral and international concern remains critically important for Canada, from health to environment to finance and education. Global Affairs Canada coordinates with the majority of other government departments to advance Canadian interests with China, and resolve consular and trade access issues as a top Government of Canada priority.

Priority Objectives

Key messages

Background

For almost five decades of diplomatic relations with China, Canada’s engagement with China has included high-level contacts and exchanges at various levels, extending pragmatic cooperation, broadening people-to-people communications, and enhancing cooperation on major international and regional affairs.

Since 2016, Canada and China have strengthened their bilateral collaboration in a variety of key areas through bilateral mechanisms, which include some twenty ministerial dialogues, joint committees or working groups. This architecture of mechanisms established a hierarchy of dialogues on 1) commercial and economic; 2) foreign and bilateral affairs; 3) security; 4) environment and climate change; 5) health and cultural frames. While none of the official dialogues have taken place since late 2018, there have been numerous exchanges and meetings between Canada and China related to health issues, environment and climate change, agri-food, culture and sports.

Canada-China Bilateral Mechanisms by OGDs

Finance: Canada and China share a common interest in strong economic, financial, and trading systems. On Nov 2018, Canada’s Minister of Finance and Minister of International Trade Diversification, and China’s State Councilor Wang Yong, held their first bilateral Economic and Financial Strategic Dialogue in Beijing during which both sides reaffirmed their commitment to deepening and expanding the Canada-China economic and trade relationship.

Energy and Environment: Canada and China enjoy good cooperation on energy and environment issues. Ministerial dialogues on climate change, environment, and clean energy are supported by working-level mechanisms. On Nov 14, 2018, Canada and China issued a leaders' statement agreeing to cooperate on tackling ocean plastics and marine litter. Minister Wilkinson met with the Head of the Chinese delegation, Zhao Yingmin, vice minister of China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment, at the international climate conference COP25 in Madrid. The last ministerial-level dialogue took place in October 2018.

Health: A ministerial dialogue and a Canada-China MOU reinforce longstanding bilateral cooperation on health issues. Canada and China have committed to cooperate on consumer product safety; exchange information on infectious diseases; and cooperate through joint health research funding, projects and scholarships, and professional exchanges. The last ministerial health policy dialogue took place in 2014 in Beijing.

Other mechanisms include Joint Agriculture Committee co-chaired by AAFC (last met in 2017 in Ottawa), Joint Committee on Science and Technology co-chaired by ISED (last met in October 2018), National Security and Law Dialogue co-chaired by National Security and Intelligence Advisor (last met in June 2017 in Ottawa), Canada-China Clean-tech Working Group co-chaired by ISED and NRCan (last met in October 2018), and the Law Enforcement Working Group co-chaired by RCMP (last met in November 2017).

People-to-People Ties

In recognizing the importance of connecting citizens from the two countries, Canada and China have been expanding people-to-people ties and deepening cooperation in the areas of culture, education and tourism, including raising the number of mutual visits and promote two-way student exchanges.

Education: Since 2010, high-level consultations on education collaboration between the provinces and territories of Canada and the People’s Republic of China have taken place, each resulting in the co-signing of summaries of discussions or joint statements. In 2018, more than 140,000 Chinese students studied in Canada, representing 25% of foreign students studying in Canada. More than 4,300 Canadians studied in China in 2018. Cooperation is supported by a 2016 Canada-China MOU on education cooperation, along with the Canada Learning Initiative in China and the Canada-China Scholars’ Exchange Program.

Culture: Canada and China are promoting arts and culture through visits, exchanges and dialogues. The first ministerial Joint Committee on Culture co-chaired by Canadian Heritage’s Minister and China’s Minister of Culture and Tourisms took place in February 2018 in Ottawa. In addition, there are growing numbers of independently organized exchanges by arts organizations. Canada and China signed a film co-production treaty in 2016.

Background: Canadian businesses in China and the TCS in China

Canadian businesses in China

The TCS in China

Provinces/Territories in China

TCS Approach to providing advice to businesses

Sector briefs

Background: FDI

The stock of Chinese outbound direct investment (ODI) reached over US$ 1.9 trillion in 2018 (UNCTAD). The stock of Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) into Canada reached CAD$ 16.9 billion in 2018, when FDI from Hong Kong is included the stock becomes CAD$ 38.8 billion (StatsCan).

The flow of Chinese ODI has steadily rose from US$ 12.2 billion in 2005, reaching a peak of US$ 196.1 billion in 2016 before dropping to US$ 158.3 billion in 2017, and in 2018 it fell further to US$ 129.8 billion (UNCTAD). The decline of Chinese ODI flows in recent years is largely attributed to Chinese domestic measures that were introduced between December 2016 and August 2017 and designed to curb capital outflow and direct ODI towards projects deemed favourable by the government (those deemed unfavourable are either prohibited or restricted). A secondary factor is the perception that many other countries have increased scrutiny on Chinese investment. In particular, the United States has reformed its investment review regime, which many commentators believe was motivated by rising Chinese investment in sensitive sectors.

Chinese investment into Canada has traditionally been concentrated in the natural resources sector. However, in recent years there has been growth Chinese investment into non-resource sectors. According to data from the University of Alberta (an unofficial data source), non-resources based sectors collectively experienced steady growth from CAD$ 1.2 billion in 2014 to CAD$ 7.2 billion in 2017, before falling by a 91% to CAD$ 630 million in 2018. The fall in Chinese investment and the sectors implicated aligns with the timing of Chinese investment controls.

Canada remains open to Chinese investment, so long as it brings a net benefit to Canada and is not injurious to national security. Canada’s Investment Canada Act (ICA) is the legislative tool to carry out reviews to ensure Canada’s interests are met. ISED issues an annual public report providing data on transactions reviewed. While the data is limited due to confidentiality concerns it does provide important insights: In FY2018-19, there were 36 filings from China/Hong Kong out of a total 962 certified filings (includes net benefit applications). Of these, there were seven section 25.3 Orders for Review (i.e. national security reviews), four of which concerned Chinese/Hong Kong companies. Of these seven only two were ordered for divestiture.

Background: STI

China is emerging as an important global centre for science, technology, and innovation. The Chinese government utilizes a variety of programs and policies at various governmental levels to facilitate this development. A key document is the Medium to Long Term Plan for the Development of Science and Technology, which was published in 2006 and runs until 2020. It is expected that a new plan will be unveiled sometime in the near future.

[REDACTED]. Canada and China have had a Scientific and Technological Cooperation Agreement in place since January 2007. Through its implementing body, the Canada-China Joint Committee on Science and Technology (CCJC), it serves to facilitate trade, investment, and international opportunities for Canadian businesses. The 7th CCJC meeting and the first Canada China Innovation Dialogue was successfully held in Beijing in October 2018 when both parties reviewed the successful practices of collaborations in the past and re-ensured the commitment to support joint initiatives in the next few years.

China is also one of five countries supported by the Canadian International Innovation Program (CIIP), which provides funding for joint research and development activities and partnership development activities. BEJING supports CIIP implementation both on a policy level, advocating with MOST for the launch of the program, and on a project level, having organized partnership development activities in each of the three priority sectors for the first call for proposals - cleantech, life sciences, and agritech.

Background: Health / Life Sciences

The overall health of China’s population has improved in recent decades, as evidenced by the rise in average life expectancy to 77 years (compared with 71.4 in 2000). Health coverage has expanded to cover 95% of the population, and health care expenditure in 2018 was 12 times greater than in 2000, amounting to US$ 1.11 trillion, a figure expected to reach US$ 1.53 trillion in 2020 and US $3.07 trillion in 2035 (or 9% of GDP, slightly higher than the OECD average of 8%).

The health care system faces major challenges in the form of a rapidly ageing population and the growth of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). In 2018, China’s elderly population (over the age of 60) was US$ 249.4 million, representing 17.9% of the total population. China’s elderly citizens will total 300 million in 2025 and peak at US$ 487 million in 2050, accounting for 30.8% of China’s total population.

China’s pharmaceutical and medical device market became the world’s second largest in 2015 and they continue to grow driven by a quickly aging population, increased prevalence of chronic diseases and cancer, urbanization and higher incomes. By 2020, it is estimated that China’s annual health expenditure will reach 7% of GDP. Although the China market remains fragmented and challenging for foreign SMEs to navigate because of a constantly evolving policy environment, risk of IP infringement and strong domestic and foreign competitors, considerable opportunities for Canadian companies exist in the following areas:

Background: Cleantech / Environment

China has committed significant political and economic capital to the effort to rein in pollution challenges (air, water and soil), and pursue an economic model driven by innovation and sustainability. Chinese decision-makers, both government and industry, are more sensitized than ever on the need to invest in clean technologies and transition to a low-carbon economy.

In 2018, China was the uncontested world leader in terms of investment in clean technologies and clean energies; by 2020, it will invest US$ 361 billion domestically on renewable energy (solar, hydro, wind, nuclear). China's total environmental expenditures as stated in the 13th Five-Year-Plan is expected to exceed US$ 1 trillion to encourage greening of heavy polluting industry and fulfil its commitment to peak CO2 emissions by 2030. Internationally, China continues to invest massively in green economy projects, mainly driven in part by its “Belt and Road” initiative. China is therefore the world's largest market for clean technologies and offers Canadian companies with significant opportunities to fill an increasing demand for sustainable technology products, services and innovative collaboration. For many TCS cleantech clients, China represents their primary market of interest, and client demand as well as client outcomes continue to be strong.

China is also the largest construction market in the world, with clear policy direction on how the sector will drive economic growth for decades to come. The government has set targets for urban residents to make up 60% of the population in 2020 and 70% in 2030 (compared to 53.7% in 2013); the movement of nearly 250 million rural residents during this period will create significant demand for social and public infrastructure. This demand translates to significant opportunities for Canadian infrastructure and construction firms, many of which are already active in the China market and seeking to expand their presence. Furthermore, Canadian industry is adept in green, energy efficient building technologies that are highly sought after by China. In its urbanization efforts, the Chinese government has placed great emphasis on green building. China’s 13th Five Year Plan (2016- 2020) sets the ambitious target that by 2020, 50% of new urban buildings in China must be certified “green”. The Plan also calls for the elimination of restrictions on foreign participation in services, including consulting engineering and architectural design. In addition, China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative indicates substantive investment in transportation infrastructure projects.

Background: Natural Resources

Lumber

Chinese demand is shifting from low-grade products for concrete-forming and scaffolding to value-added products for structural use. Over 90% of light wood frame buildings in China are now built with Canadian lumber. Developing the market remains one of the Canadian forestry industry's top priorities, as evidenced by the significant investment in Canada Wood and the strong commitment to the market demonstrated by Canada's top exporters (a third of whose product is sold to China).

In the last three years, the Chinese government has issued numerous policies favouring wood construction, creating opportunities for Canadian expertise and export.  Example policies include having wood be recognized as a green building material; requiring 30% of buildings to be prefabricated by 2025; commercial logging bans in natural forests; clear targets in 13th Five-Year Plan to build wood demos and consolidate wood building codes and standards.

Oil and Gas

China is the world’s largest oil and gas importer. Factors influencing China’s future oil and gas demand include climate change commitments, the establishment of a carbon market, supply-side reform, slowing industrial growth, expanding urbanization, and a growing middle-class. Moreover, China’s depleting reserves combined with the high cost of developing domestic unconventional resources, compounded by new policies to bolster the petrochemicals/advanced materials sectors will all further increase China’s energy imports.

Like Canada, China is committed to reducing the environmental impacts of its economic growth, energy production and use, and is keen to further bilateral cooperation in these areas, with special focus on LNG. China's twinned energy priorities, reducing environmental impacts and ensuring adequate resources to support economic growth, align with Canadian strengths and capabilities and represent a unique opportunity to promote Canada as both a choice investment destination and key trading partner in technologies, services, and expertise.

Minerals and Metals

China is the world’s leading consumer of minerals and metals (55% of aluminum, 48% of copper, 49% of zinc, 43% of all steel.) In 2017, minerals were among the top Canadian exports to China. Even though growth of China’s mining and industrial sectors is slowing, consolidating, and undergoing supply-side reform, future demand drivers remain prominent, including 1) urbanization; 2) growth of emerging industries such as electric vehicles; and 3) transition to low-carbon fuel sources (ie. nuclear). These demand growth factors will force China to secure safe and reliable access to conventional and specialized minerals outside its borders. Canada's abundant resource endowment and world-class technology and expertise means Canada is well-positioned to help China address their future resource demands. Almost all of Canada’s resource-producing provinces and territories have identified China as a priority market.

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