Harper, Chinese foreign minister share warm moment

OTTAWA — If there was a chill in relations between the Conservative government and Beijing before, you’d never know it by the blast of warmth that filled the room as Prime Minister Stephen Harper met Tuesday with the Chinese foreign minister.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

OTTAWA — If there was a chill in relations between the Conservative government and Beijing before, you’d never know it by the blast of warmth that filled the room as Prime Minister Stephen Harper met Tuesday with the Chinese foreign minister.

The two men posed for cameras and earnestly talked about the importance of expanding links between the two countries.

Three waves of cameras entered the Prime Minister’s Office to capture the moment, and Harper made sure they all heard him tell Yang Jeichi to convey his regards to Chinese President Hu Jintao.

“Your visit here is very useful, we really appreciate it,” Harper told Yang.

Yang was equally effusive. His trip to Canada was organized hastily, and viewed by observers as an important sign of a rapprochement.

“I’m glad to see that trade between us has grown and our two economies are really cut out for each other,” Yang said in impeccable English.

“There’s large room for further expansion to the benefit of both sides. We need to work together to cope with the spreading international financial crisis.”

Said Harper: “We also need to be very outspoken advocates against protectionism and help trade grow during times like these.”

A spokesman for Harper would not provide information on the ensuing discussions between the two men, including any details of a potential trip to China in the fall.

Yang also met with Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff on Tuesday, gaining the kind of access to top Canadian politicians that is usually reserved for heads of state.

Yang later delivered a major speech to the Canada-China Business Council, in which he continued to speak favourably about bilateral relations. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Transport Minister John Baird and former prime minister Joe Clark attended.

Relations between Ottawa and Beijing had been seriously strained when the Conservatives came to power in 2006, following a series of statements and policy moves that rankled the Chinese.

Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama had been named an honorary Canadian citizen, Canada was actively protesting the imprisonment of Chinese-Canadian Huseyin Celil, and Harper used remarkably strong language in referring to his concern over human rights in China.

“I don’t think Canadians want us to sell out important Canadian values,” Harper said, after a potential meeting with Jintao in November 2006 had suddenly fallen through.

“They don’t want us to sell out to the almighty dollar.”

Business leaders began to sound the alarm over lost trade and investment opportunities between Canada and the economic behemoth.

But Harper has taken steps over the past year to mend fences. He recently sent two senior ministers — Stockwell Day and Lawrence Cannon — on high-profile trips to China, and reached out to Hu at last year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Partnership (APEC) summit in Japan.

Just Posted

Rural transit service rolled out

2A South Regional Transit will link Innisfail and Penhold with Red Deer

Some Red Deer waste collection schedules change due to holiday season

Tuesday collections will be moved for two weeks

Red Deer ‘champion’ helps hospital by sharing ongoing petition

It’s been about three years since many physicians at Red Deer Regional… Continue reading

Red Deer Airport’s prospects are looking up for 2019

Ultra-low-cost passenger service is on the horizon

Funding down for Red Deer Christmas charities

Food hampers and toys for children going out to those in need

Alberta’s Sundial starts shipping to AGLC this week

Sundial’s Rocky View facility has received the green light from Health Canada… Continue reading

Penny Marshall dead at 75, best known as TV’s Laverne and director of ‘Big,’ ‘A League of Their Own’

Bronx-born Penny Marshall, who found ’70s sitcom success on “Laverne and Shirley”… Continue reading

Chabot scores overtime winner to lift Senators over Predators 4-3

OTTAWA — Thomas Chabot saw an opening and he took it. And… Continue reading

Canadian Marielle Thompson earns World Cup ski cross bronze in season opener

AROSA, Switzerland — Canada’s Marielle Thompson captured bronze at the opening World… Continue reading

Canada doesn’t make Oscars short list for best foreign language film

LOS ANGELES — Canada is no longer in the running for best… Continue reading

Warrant issued for arrest of ‘Schwimmer lookalike’ suspect

LONDON — A British judge has issued an arrest warrant for an… Continue reading

Moneywise: Canadian workers unhappy with pay, want pension plans

Many working Canadians are feeling underpaid and are so worried about their… Continue reading

Brazil police say faith healer has turned himself in

RIO DE JANEIRO — A celebrity faith healer accused of sexually abusing… Continue reading

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

VANCOUVER — Nicola Froese says she has always loved playing sports, but… Continue reading

Most Read