PM Trudeau Arrives in China to Address Economic, Human Rights Issues

PM Trudeau Arrives in China to Address Economic, Human Rights Issues
Photo Credit:AP/ 達志影像

What you need to know

During the prime minister's first official visit to China, Justin Trudeau plans to strengthen economic ties and bring up the case of a Canadian who has been detained since 2014.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau landed in China today on his first official visit to the country since taking office. His eight-day visit, which concludes on Sept. 7, includes meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) and Premier Li Keqiang (李克強), and his participation at the G20 leaders’ summit in Hangzhou.

Among his goals to “reset” the relationship and strengthen economic ties between the two countries, Trudeau also intends to raise the issue of jailed Canadian Kevin Garratt, who was detained in China on spying allegations in 2014.

During a Q&A with reporters in Canada in June, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (王毅) reprimanded a reporter for touching on Garratt’s case.

“I have to say that your question is full of prejudice against China and arrogance. I don’t know where that comes from. This is totally unacceptable,” Wang said at the time, sparking controversy in Canada.

The Guardian reports that before embarking on his trip, Trudeau faced several calls by activists to highlight concerns over human rights abuses, such as Tibet and the treatment of Falun Gong practitioners, with his Chinese counterparts. It remains to be seen whether the prime minister will address these issues.

Gerry Ritz, a former agriculture minister, offered Trudeau some advice when broaching China’s less-than-stellar human rights record: "don’t do it in public,” the Toronto Star reports.

Many people in Canada have felt threatened by China's negative impact on freedom of expression in their country, particularly Chinese-language newspapers, which appear to have fallen under the shadow of censorship.

Pierre Elliot Trudeau, former Canadian prime minister and father of Justin Trudeau, established diplomatic ties with China in 1970 and was the first Canadian prime minister to visit the country in 1973. Chinese state-owned Global Times reports that the younger Trudeau’s visit to China is “one of the longest ones global leaders have made” and shows the prime minister’s “good intentions.”

Earlier this month, the Canadian government announced it would increase the number of visas the country offers to Chinese tourists, students, and temporary workers as part of their campaign to attract more Chinese investors and migrants. Canada and China are also exploring the possibility of signing a bilateral free-trade agreement.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole