Beijing: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that ties with Beijing had entered a new era following a charm offensive which saw 56 business deals signed.
Speaking in Hong Kong following a week-long trip to China, where he met President Xi Jinping and attended the Group of 20 summit in Hangzhou, Trudeau said the “hot and cold” nature of relations with Beijing was over and that ties had been “revitalised”.
Trudeau said his trip had been about more than signing the deals, which he said were worth more than CAD$ 1.2 billion ($929 million).
“We needed to renew and deepen the relationship between the people of Canada and people of China for the long term and I think it’s safe to say we have accomplished just that,” Trudeau said at a business lunch in Hong Kong, calling for a “solid framework of engagement” to enhance commercial opportunities.
Canada said last month it would apply to join the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Trudeau said he had also raised contentious subjects, including issues of rule of law and corruption, but did not say how China had responded.
Asked about how a major Hong Kong election — which saw politicians advocating a break from China become lawmakers Monday — would affect relations he said Canada would work with “whoever gets elected and forms government in foreign jurisdictions”.
Trudeau also met Hong Kong’s richest tycoon Li Ka-shing, posting a picture of himself with the billionaire on Twitter, and the city’s leader Leung Chun-ying. Earlier Tuesday, Trudeau honoured those who died in World War II at a city cemetery.
Hong Kong fell to the Japanese after 18 days of desperate fighting in 1941. About 290 Canadians were among the roughly 2,100 allied troops killed in the battle. Hundreds of survivors endured years of abuse and starvation as prisoners of war, leading to more than 260 additional Canadian deaths.
“We remember the sacrifice and service of so many who stood and fell for our shared values, so far from home,” Trudeau wrote in the guest book, seen by an AFP reporter.