Sunday, November 09, 2014

PM Signs Agreement with China a Month After Rejecting Chinese Delegation Attending IAC2014

          by Chuck Black

For those of us who don't believe that space exploration has a political component, it's worth noting that, only a month after Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government denied entry to key members of the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) so that they were unable to attend the 65th International Astronautical Congress, held in Toronto from September 29th - October 3rd, the Federal government has announced that Canada will open new trade offices in the Chinese cities of Hangzhou, Xi’an, Xiamen and Tianjin.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper lauded Canada’s low corporate tax rate and debt levels during a question-and-answer session with Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba CEO Jack Ma and mentioned that Canada has an exceedingly attractive place to do business for Chinese investors, at least according to the November 7th, 2014 Postmedia News article "Stephen Harper courts Alibaba’s Jack Ma, opens 4 trades office in visit to China that so far is all business." Photo c/o Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld

The Canadian PM made the announcement during his latest trip to China from November 5th - 10th.

As outlined in the November 7th, 2014 press release on the Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper's website under the title "PM announces expansion of trade network in China," the new offices will "will help Canadian businesses flourish in some of the fastest growing regions of China with a view to generating jobs and economic growth back home."

According to the press release, China is already Canada’s second-largest trading partner and is indirectly responsible for half a million Canadian jobs.

Of course, trade, technology and innovation weren't the only a topics up for debate during the Canadian PM's latest trip to China, his third since becoming Prime Minister in 2006. As outlined in the November 9th, 2014 CBC News article, "Stephen Harper raises human rights concerns with Chinese President Xi Jinping," the PM also claimed to have "raised a full range of concerns with the Chinese in his meetings with the country's leadership over the past few days,"

According to the article, the concerns were raised in "closed-door talks follow[ing] signing of business deals worth up to $2.5Bln CDN."

Kevin and Julia Dawn Garratt, shown here flanked by their son Peter and daughter Hannah, are being investigated by Chinese authorities for allegedly stealing state secrets. The Canadian couple own a coffee shop in Dandong, a Chinese city near the North Korean border. Photo c/o Simeon Garratt.

As well, a more recent irritant involved the case of Kevin and Julia Dawn Garratt, a Canadian couple accused of espionage by the Chinese government after living in China for 30 years, who have been held without charges since August, 2014. According to the article:
Their detainment came just days after Canada accused the Chinese of spying on federal government agencies. 
Their son, Simeon, said Sunday that he had feared the Canadian government wasn't putting enough pressure on the Chinese to release his parents. But later in the day, Simeon Garratt said those concerns had been assuaged after hearing from embassy officials. 
"I am really glad with ... the leadership role that Harper and I think the rest of the government has taken on my parents' case," he said in Beijing, where he travelled last week, timing his visit to Harper's.
Best of all, "a hotly anticipated reciprocal currency deal between Canada and China was also inked. The agreement will foster far easier trade between the Canadian dollar and the Chinese currency, and makes Canada the first country in the Americas to have a deal to trade in the yuan, also known as the renminbi."

Stand by for adventure...

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