The Toronto Star shares Mike Blanchfield’s report about how the Canadian government wants to negotiate a free trade agreement with China. Especially now, given the uncertainty in our relationship with the United States, I’m strongly for this. Diversifying our options is almost always a good thing.
Canada and China are launching exploratory talks towards a free-trade agreement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday during a visit that saw the Chinese premier publicly defend his country’s use of the death penalty.
The ever-present clash of economic interests and human rights was on full display, as it always is in Sino-Canadian relations. But Li Keqiang displayed an easy familiarity with his host — one celebrated over a beer the night before at the prime minister’s Harrington Lake retreat — as the two leaders pushed forward their economic agenda.
Both leaders also acknowledged the thornier issues in their relationship, including ongoing political opposition in Canada to a potential extradition deal with China, which practices capital punishment and has a dubious human rights record.
As well, there is the spectre of China’s “Operation Fox Hunt” — its international pursuit and harassment of so-called economic fugitives and other dissidents.
Standing next to Trudeau in the foyer of the House of Commons, Li denied his country sends foreign agents abroad.
But he calmly addressed head-on the issue of capital punishment in his country, providing an elegant contrast to the tongue-lashing his foreign minister gave a reporter who asked him about human rights earlier this year in Ottawa.