Issues in Canada-China Relations

Published: November 2011    |    By: CIC China Working Group


Bilateral relations with the People’s Republic of China involve matters of great strategic interest to Canada. Recent changes in the frequency of high level visits; the effect, style and content of bilateral communications; and perspectives held by various sectors in each country about the other all suggest that the Canada-China relationship has changed significantly in recent years. China remains vitally important to Canada for a variety of reasons and in a variety of sectors. Political and diplomatic cooperation on issues of direct bilateral concern and also on issues of global import remains critically important. Commercial and trade ties linking Canada with the world’s second largest and fastest growing economy are of obvious significance. Cultural and civil society ties, including immigration patterns and the ancillary effects they generate, are also important. While the diversity of links between Canada and China militates in favour of giving due attention to a multiplicity of sub-national business, academic, and civil society links, bilateral cooperation at the federal/central government level remains essential. Thus, the present conditions and future implications of relations with China should continue to command attention from Canadians.

In keeping with the objectives of the Canadian International Council to advance research and dialogue on international affairs issues of importance and interest to Canadians, the CIC Canada-China Relations Project (“CCRP”) has focused on building a non-partisan policy consensus for Canada’s relationship with China, recognizing China’s robust approach to sovereignty while also advancing Canadian interests.

The papers in this volume provide insight and analysis on a range of issues important to the Canada-China relationship. Some focus on issues of immediate importance, while others examine ‘over the horizon’ issues, which may not command the front pages of newspapers today but surely will in the years to come. This combination of current and emerging policy issues on China will hopefully add value to the ongoing discussions on the Canada-China relationship. Taken together, the collected papers also make the case for the importance of China to Canada, and hence the importance of getting the relationship right.

The purpose of this project has been to provide informed analysis and recommendations to a variety of public and private stakeholders in Canada, with a view toward building a non-partisan consensus on furthering the development of healthy long-term relations between Canada and China. We have few illusions about the difficulty of this task. China’s importance to the world mandates attention. Historical and current conditions affect perceptions and the potential for consensus within Canada and China as to how best to manage the relationship. Pressures from other countries in favour of particular policy perspectives further complicate the process. However, it is hoped that the process of rigorous research and analysis, coupled with stakeholder participation in Canada and China, can contribute to a consensus around a reasoned set of policy proposals and parameters.

Project Themes

The research, analysis, and policy dialogue activities of the CCRP were developed along three Thematic Areas, namely: a) Domestic contexts for Canada-China relations; b) Economic dimensions of the relationship; c) Collaboration on global issues of common concern. For each of these Thematic Areas, the CCRP has been fortunate to be able to call upon some of Canada’s most distinguished specialists to coordinate research and writing on the various topics addressed. The Thematic Coordinators include:

  • Domestic Contexts: Professor Jeremy Paltiel, Carleton University;
  • Economic Relations: Yuen-Pau Woo, President and CEO of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada;
  • Global Cooperation: Professor Brian Job, Director, Institute of International Relations, Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia.

Domestic Contexts.

The Canada-China relationship can be most effective when it is grounded on complementarity of interests, which in turn requires mutual understanding of domestic normative and institutional conditions in both countries. Canadian initiatives with China, ranging from WTO compliance and business regulation to human rights, can be more effective when designed and implemented in light of China’s domestic conditions, ranging from popular norms to governmental structures and policy priorities. The papers included in Section 1: Domestic Contexts address a wide range of topics relevant to the domestic contexts in which Canada-China relations operate. The domestic contexts for engagement involve interrelated issues of structure, orientation, and interests. These factors also affect the parameters, scope and content of papers presented on other themes in this volume. Papers in this section were presented at stakeholder seminars held in Toronto, Vancouver, and Beijing. We are pleased to include a commentary from Professor Zhang Xiaoyi of the China Institute of International Studies, which served as an institutional partner in this project.

Economic Relations.

Economic relations between Canada and China are critically important. Economic relations include bilateral trade and investment relations, and also extend to local effects of global economic conditions and behaviour. In the trade area, the two economies exhibit important elements of complementarity. In trade and investment relations, efforts to promote normative and institutional accommodation for business objectives are consistent with both Chinese development policies and important Canadian interests in areas of good governance. As well, national economic behaviour by the two countries in response to changing economic conditions at the global, regional, and local levels have important effects on the Canada-China relationship. The papers included in Section 2: Economic Relations, prepared through collaboration with the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, examine current conditions, benchmark guidelines for future engagement, and identify impediments to expanded business relations. Extensive survey work is coupled with statistical indicators to illuminate the general contours of the Canada-China economic relationship. As well, patterns in Canada-China two-way investment suggest significant trends in the scope and content of investment relations, and also reveal changing domestic, economic and financial conditions in each country. Papers in this section were presented at stakeholder seminars held in Toronto, Vancouver, and Beijing. We are pleased to include a commentary from Professor Zhou Xingbao of the China Institute of International Studies, which served as an institutional partner in this project.

Collaboration on Global Issues.

The importance of China’s responsible participation in systems for addressing global policy concerns in areas such as environment, health, and security cannot be overstated. Yet, China’s participation in the global community can be distorted by its responses to apprehension and competition from other global actors—particularly the United States, the European Union, and Japan. Canada has a significant role to play in supporting China’s responsible participation, not only through direct bilateral programs but also through our capacity to deploy good offices, legitimation, and other soft power resources both bilaterally and globally. The papers included in Section 3: Global Cooperation address bilateral cooperation on global issues in areas of environment, health and safety, security, and governance. Acknowledging the changing conditions for Canada-China cooperation caused by asymmetries of size and global influence, Canada nonetheless has an important role to play in facilitating China’s responsible behaviour in the international community. Papers included in this section address China’s effects on environmental conditions both locally and internationally, and its changing attitudes toward international cooperation. Health and safety issues have seized attention in recent years and present important opportunities for Canada-China bilateral cooperation. The area of security includes both conventional and human security, each of which involves a range of critical issues associated with China’s “peaceful rise” and “peaceful development.” Challenges of global governance are also addressed, particularly in political and economic matters that are increasingly recognized as matters of common concern. Bilateral cooperation between Canada and China on these issues can play a vital role in redesigning and managing multilateral, regional, and global architectures. Papers in this section were presented at stakeholder seminars held in Toronto, Vancouver, and Beijing. We are pleased to include a commentary from Professor Liu Xuecheng of the China Institute of International Studies, which served as an institutional partner in this project.

About the Authors

Thomas Adams is Executive Associate at Kreab Gavin Anderson in Beijing, China, a global public relations and communications partnership, advising corporations and other organisations on issues of strategic importance in business, finance and politics. Previously, he was Research Officer at the Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies (CISS) and then Research Program Officer at the Canadian International Council (CIC) in Toronto. He holds a B.A. (honours) and M.A. in Political Science from the University of Alberta in Edmonton. He has edited numerous publications and has authored articles for Strategic Datalink, On Track, International Journal, and SITREP and has contributed op-eds and commentary to Canadian print and television media.

Dr. Margaret Beare served as the first Director of the Nathanson Centre for the Study of Organized Crime and Corruption, located within Osgoode Hall Law School at York University in Toronto from 1996-2006. Dr. Beare is a professor within the sociology and law departments. Her career combines academic teaching with research and policy development. Her previous research includes her book Criminal Conspiracies, Organized Crime in Canada; a report for the Law Commission of Canada titled Major Issues Relating to Organized Crime (with Tom Naylor), and in 2003 she edited a book titled Critical Reflections on Transnational Organized Crime, Money Laundering and Corruption. Beare had two books published by the University of Toronto Press in spring 2007: Money Laundering in Canada: The Chasing of Dirty and Dangerous Dollars, co-authored with Stephen Schneider, and a coedited manuscript pertaining to police independence titled Police and Government Relations: Who’s Calling the Shots. In 2008–09, she contributed two chapters and edited another book published by the University of Toronto Press titled Honouring Social Justice: Honouring Dianne Martin in honour of a colleague at Osgoode Hall Law School.

Barry Carin is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation and Associate Director of the Globalization and Governance Program at the Centre for Global Studies. In addition, he is Adjunct Professor of Public Administration at the University of Victoria and a co-editor of the journal Global Governance. He was High Commissioner of Canada to Singapore between 1996 and 2000. Prior to that, he was Assistant Deputy Minister Trade and Economic Policy with Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade where his responsibilities included Foreign Affairs Sous-Sherpa for four G7 Summits and leader of the branch responsible for the conduct of international trade and investments negotiations, including disputes settlement. He was also the Canadian representative on the Executive Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Barry Carin holds a PhD in Economics from Brown University and an Honours BA in Political Science and Economics from McGill University

Victor (Zitian) Chen is a PhD Candidate in Strategy at the Segal Graduate School of Business, Simon Fraser University. He wrote this paper as part of his tenure as a Post Graduate Research Fellow at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, 2008–2009. His research interests cover emerging economies, the Asia-Pacific gateway, international investment and migration, as well as public-private partnership, corporate governance and institutional development. His work has been presented at Academy of Management meetings, Academy of International Business meetings, the Canadian Socio-Economic Conference and the Canadian Population Society Conference, among others. He is a recipient of British Columbia Pacific Century Scholarship 2007–2008 and SSHRC 2009–2011 Doctoral Scholarship. Victor holds an MA in Economics from the University of Ottawa and a BA in Finance from Beijing, China.

Catherine Côté graduated from the University of Toronto in 2008, where she majored in Canadian Studies and East Asian Studies. She recently completed a Master of Arts in Asia Pacific Policy Studies at the University of British Columbia. She has developed an expertise in global health issues and the role developed countries, such as Canada, could play in preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Côté currently works in Shanghai for Ivoclar Vivadent, a dental product manufacturer.

Ronald Deibert received his PhD from the University of British Columbia and is an Associate Professor of Political Science and the Director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto. The Citizen Lab is an interdisciplinary research and development hothouse working at the intersection of the Internet, global security and human rights. Deibert is a cofounder and a principal investigator of The Information Warfare Monitor, an OpenNet Initiative, research and advocacy project that examines Internet censorship and surveillance worldwide, and is a cofounder and director of global policy and outreach for Psiphon Incorporated. Deibert has published numerous articles, chapters and three books on issues related technology, media and world politics, and was one of the authors of the Tracking Ghostnet report of alleged Chinese cyber espionage involving over 1200 computers in 103 countries. Deibert’s research has been featured in newspapers, television, and radio shows, including the New York Times, BBC, The Globe and Mail, CBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, WIRED and the Far Eastern Economic Review. He was awarded the University of Toronto Outstanding Teaching Award (2002), the Northrop Frye Distinguished Teaching and Research Award (2002) and was a Ford Foundation research scholar of Information and communication technologies (2002–2004). He was named to the Macleans magazine honour roll as one of 39 Canadians to have helped make the world a better place in 2006, and to Esquire Magazine’s Best and Brightest list of 2007.

Brian Evans served as Cultural Counsellor at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing 1973–1974 and served on the Academic Relations Committee of the Department of External Affairs in the late 1970s when the original Canadian Studies strategy was formulated. He has been involved in the Canadian Studies program in China during the past decade as a visiting scholar, special lecturer and conference keynote speaker.

Paul Evans is Professor and Director at the Institute of Asian Research at The University of British Columbia. His books include John Fairbank and the American Understanding of Modern China and, with Bernie Frolic, a co-edited volume Reluctant Adversaries: Canada and the People’s Republic of China, 1949–70. He is finishing a book tentatively titled “Canada and Global China: After Engagement.” Between 2005 and 2008 he served as the Co-CEO of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.

Arthur J. Hanson is a Distinguished Fellow at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). The author has served for 16 years as a member of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) and in other roles involving China.

Myles Hulme is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science at Carleton University. He recently completed a six-month period of research in Taipei at National Chengchi University with the assistance of an NCCU International PhD Research Scholarship. His research interests include the evolving state of more traditional avenues in international relations such as diplomacy and sovereignty in the context of “Greater China.”

Wade L. Huntley, PhD, is Senior Lecturer in the National Security Affairs department at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Dr. Huntley’s publications include four edited volumes and over fifty peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and scholarly essays on topics of nuclear weapons proliferation, global security studies, U.S. foreign policies, East and South Asian regional relations, security and arms control in space, and international relations theory. He has worked extensively in consultative roles engaging officials and experts on a range of global security issues, specializing in development of projects bringing productive insights to near-term policy challenges through examining broader and future-oriented contexts. Through this work he has convened a score of international conferences and contributed to numerous other projects and reports. Dr. Huntley previously was Director of the Simons Centre for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Research at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada; Associate Professor at the Hiroshima Peace Institute in Hiroshima, Japan; and Director of the Global Peace and Security Program at the Nautilus Institute in Berkeley, California. He received his doctorate in political science from the University of California at Berkeley in 1993 and has taught at several universities

Dr. Lesley Jacobs (BA, MA, Political Science, UWO; PhD, Politics, Oxford) is Professor of Law and Society and Political Science and Director of the York Centre for Public Policy & Law at York University in Toronto, Canada. He has held a range of distinguished visiting appointments at other universities including the Harvard Law School (Liberal Arts Fellow, 1997–1998), Oxford Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (Wolfson Fellow, 1994), Law Commission of Canada (Virtual Scholar in Residence, 2006– 2007), the University of California, Berkeley (1994), the University of Toronto (Centre of Criminology, 2004–2005) and the University of British Columbia (Political Science, 2001). He is also a member of the Research Advisory Board of the Law Commission of Ontario. His books include Rights and Deprivation (Oxford University Press, 1993); Workfare: Does It Work? Is It fair? (IRPP, 1995); The Democratic Vision of Politics (Simon & Schuster, 1997) and Pursuing Equal Opportunities (Cambridge University Press, 2004). His newest forthcoming books include The Globalization of Public Health Policy on the Asia Pacific Rim: Domestic Policy Dialogue with International Institutions and (with Sarah Biddulph) an edited volume, International Human Rights Issues in the Asia Pacific: New Perspectives on Social Rights. His research interests include global public health and human rights; comparative public policy (especially income policy, health law and policy and human rights); empirical sociallegal research; courts and social policy; intersections between international human rights and trade law; and theoretical work on social justice. Although his work has a wide transnational comparative reach, it focuses mainly on public policy and law in Canada, the United States, China and other countries on the Asia Pacific Rim.

Dr. Wenran Jiang is Mactaggart Research Chair, founding Director of the China Institute (2005–2008) and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta. He is a Senior Fellow at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (APF Canada), Special Advisor on China to the Energy Council, Editorial Board member of Geopolitics of Energy, a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars in Washington D.C. (September 2009–March 2010) and Project Leader of the Annual Canada-China Energy and Environment Forum (since 2004). Dr. Jiang has written extensively on the rise of China and its impact on the Chinese political economy and the rest of the world, with a major focus on the shifting balance of power in the global economy, international finance and energy and resource sectors. Dr. Jiang is also a Bloomberg-Business week online columnist, and his op-ed articles and opinions on East Asia and energy issues appear regularly in the Canadian and world media. He is currently completing a book on energy security and Chinese foreign policy.

Frédéric Lasserre is Professor of Geography at Université Laval (Quebec City). He holds an MBA from York University (1990) and a master of commerce degree from the École Supérieure de Commerce of Lyon (France). He obtained his PhD in political geography in 1996 from the Université de Saint- Étienne (France), with a dissertation on maritime border issues in the South China Sea. He worked for six years at the Quebec Ministry of Trade and Industry before joining Université Laval in 2001. He heads two international research teams, the first on water management issues, the other on Arctic geopolitics, and he has published several articles and books on these topics. The second team is scheduled to publish a book on Arctic politics in 2010.

Peter S. Li (BA, University of Hawaii, MA and PhD, Northwestern University) is Professor of Sociology at the University of Saskatchewan. His research areas are race and ethnicity, Chinese Canadians, the Chinese diaspora, immigration and multiculturalism. He has published over 70 academic papers and 11 books, including The Chinese in Canada, The Making of Post-War Canada and Destination Canada: Immigration Issues and Debates. He has served as a consultant and an advisor to various Canadian federal departments, including Statistics Canada, Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Canadian Heritage. In 2002, he was given the “Outstanding Contribution Award” by the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association in recognition of his contribution to sociology. He was editor (2005–2009) of Journal of International Migration and Integration and president (2004–2005) of the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association. Currently, he is the vice-president of the International Society for the Study of Chinese Overseas. In 2009, he was elected fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Xuecheng Liu is a Senior Research Fellow and Executive Vice President of the Center for China-U.S. Relations of the China Institute of International Studies in Beijing, PRC. Dr. Liu also serves as a member of the CSCAP-China National Committee, ARF Experts/Eminent Persons, and the ACD High-Level Study Group. He is a standing council member of the China Association for South Asian Studies, the China Association of Asia-Pacific Studies, the China Association of Asia-African Studies, the ChinaASEAN Association, and the Chinese-American People’s Friendship Association. He is frequently interviewed by Chinese and foreign media. Dr. Liu is the author of two books: The Sino-Indian Border Dispute and Sino-Indian Relations (in English) and China and the United States: Rivals or Partners. He has authored over 20 book chapters and published over 300 academic articles and research reports as well as conference papers in leading Chinese and foreign journals.

Scott McKnight is currently enrolled as a master’s student in the International Relations program (in Chinese) at the Renmin University of China in Beijing. He is currently researching Sino-Canadian relations, a topic on which he has written about numerous times in the past, including his undergraduate honour’s research thesis. He is fluent in Chinese, as well as several other foreign languages.

Jeremy Paltiel is Professor of Political Science at Carleton University in Ottawa and recently was visiting Professor at the Department of International Relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing. He is the author of The Empire’s New Clothes: Cultural Particularism and Universality in China’s Rise to Global Status (Palgrave, 2007) and numerous articles on Chinese politics, foreign policy and SinoCanadian relations.

Dr. Pitman Potter’s teaching and research are focused on PRC and Taiwan law and policy in the areas of foreign trade and investment, dispute resolution, intellectual property, contracts, business regulation and human rights. He received his J.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Washington. In addition to his academic activities, Dr. Potter is admitted to the practice of law in British Columbia, Washington and California, and serves as a consultant to the Canadian national law firm of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP. As a Chartered Arbitrator, Dr. Potter is engaged in international trade arbitration of the Canada China Business Council and the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. Dr. Potter’s work is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, to which he is deeply grateful.

Gordon Smith is the Director of the Centre for Global Studies and Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Victoria. Dr. Smith arrived at the University of Victoria in 1997 following a distinguished career with the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, which included posts as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1994–1997, Ambassador to the European Union in Brussels from 1991–1994 and Ambassador to the Canadian Delegation to NATO, from 1985–1990. He is the author (with Moisés Naím) of Altered States: Globalization, Sovereignty, and Governance (Ottawa: IDRC, 2000), and co-editor (with Daniel Wolfish) of Who is Afraid of the State? Canada in a World of Multiple Centres of Power (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001), as well as numerous book chapters and articles. From 1997 to 2007, Dr. Smith served as Chairman of Canada’s International Development Research Centre. He holds a PhD in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Yves Tiberghien is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of British Columbia. He obtained his PhD in political science from Stanford University and was an Academy Scholar at Harvard University in 2004–2006. He specializes in comparative political economy and international political economy with an empirical focus on Japan, China, Korea and Europe. In 2007, he published “Entrepreneurial States: Reforming Corporate Governance in France, Japan, and Korea” with Cornell University Press in the Political Economy Series. He has published on the Japanese political economy, comparative political economy and climate change politics. Over the last four years, he has been working on the global governance of genetically engineered food. He is currently starting a new multi-year project on the role of China in global governance (with a focus on global financial regulations, the G20 and global environmental issues) funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

Der-yuan Wu is Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of International Relations, National Chengchi University, Taipei and currently is Visiting Research Associate at the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He received his PhD in Political Science from Carleton University. His research areas include institutions, ideas in policy process and relationships between Beijing, Ottawa, Taipei and Washington. He has published his research in various Taiwanese journals as well as a book in Chinese. His recent English works include a book chapter in New Institutionalism: Theory and Analysis edited by Andre Lecours (University of Toronto Press, 2005) and an article in Issues & Studies (2008), and has delivered papers at various yearly conferences hosted by the Canadian Political Science Association and the International Studies Association.

Kenny Zhang is a Senior Project Manager at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. He joined the Foundation in January 2003 and specializes in China and immigration topics. His main research interests include Canada-China trade and investment relations, economics of immigration of Canada with focus on the Canadians abroad. Mr. Zhang received his BA and MA degrees in economics from Fudan University, China and the Institute of Social Studies, The Netherlands, respectively. Prior to joining the Foundation, he worked as associate research professor at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and senior researcher at the Centre of Excellence on Immigration Studies at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver. Mr. Zhang is on the Board of Directors of Canada China Business Council (BC Chapter). He has been a member of Vancouver Mayor’s Task Force on Immigration since 2005. He is also member on the Joint Federal Provincial Immigration Advisory Council and Immigrant Employment Council of British Columbia.

Zhang Xiaoyi is a lecturer and MA supervisor at Canadian Studies Center of Beijing Foreign Studies University. He is also a member of the expert pool of China Institute for International Studies (CIIS) and researcher at Center on Public Diplomacy of Beijing Foreign Studies University, with publications and media comments on Canada-China relations and public diplomacy.

Dr. Zhou is a Senior Research Fellow of CIIS and Vice Chairman and Secretary General of China National Committee, Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP). After he graduated from Graduate School of Beijing Foreign Languages Institute, Mr. Zhou joined the Department of Translation and Interpretation of MFA in 1965. In 1973, he joined CIIS. Before taking the current position, he was Deputy Director and Director of Division of World Economy, Director of Division of American Studies, Vice President of CIIS. He spent one year as a visiting scholar at the Center for Asian Studies, University of Texas at Austin in the US. From 1988 to 1992, he served as first secretary and Deputy Director of the political section in the Chinese Embassy in the UK. From 1998 to 2001, he was Chinese Consul-General in Toronto. His research areas cover world economy, international relations and the Asia-Pacific region. Mr. Zhou enjoys the government’s “distinguished contributor” specialist allowance.