Stephen Harper goes to China to help repair strained ties between two countries

Prime Minister Stephen Harper heads to China this week amid serious divisions in the Conservative ranks over Canada’s relationship with its No. 2 trading partner.

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper heads to China this week amid serious divisions in the Conservative ranks over Canada’s relationship with its No. 2 trading partner.

Since Harper’s last visit to China in 2012, the Conservatives cracked down on state-owned Chinese investment in Alberta’s oilsands and have yet to respond to an invitation to negotiate a free-trade agreement with China.

The government also dragged its heels on ratifying a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with the Chinese.

Tensions reached a fever pitch in recent months after Harper accused the Chinese of a cyberattack on the National Research Council, while the Chinese have accused a Canadian couple living in China of spying.

Harper’s itinerary has a heavy focus on trade and economics, with the prime minister leading a Canadian business delegation to the industrial city of Hangzhou on Friday and Saturday.

He then heads to the capital, Beijing, for two more days of meetings.

Follow Lee-Anne Goodman on Twitter (at)leeanne25

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