September 19, 2018
Fairmont Château Laurier, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
On Wednesday, September 19th, the China Institute, hosted a dinner with our Guests of Honour including Ambassador WU Hailong, President, Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs and Mr. CHEN Jian, Former Vice Minister, Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China. Representative of the Government in the Senate, Hon. Peter Harder, and Co-Chair of the Canada-China Legislative Association, as well as distinguished foreign policy experts also attended the concluding dinner.
Director Gordon Houlden's Dinner Speech
I wish to welcome the Chinese People’s Institute for Foreign Affairs (CPIFA) delegation and my fellow Canadians to the concluding dinner of the Third Canada-China Track Two Dialogue, co-hosted by the China Institute of the University of Alberta and the Chinese People’s Institute of for Foreign Affairs.
I would also highlight the presence this evening of the leaders of the Chinese delegation, CPIFA President WU Hailong and former Commerce Vice-Minister CHEN Jian.
I am delighted that we have such a strong turnout of distinguished Canadians this evening, including the Representative of the Government in the Senate Hon. Peter Harder, and a Co-Chair of the Canada-China Legislative Association, as well as distinguished foreign policy experts.
I would also like to note the presence of HE PRC Ambassador Lu and Global Affairs Canada Assistant Deputy Minister for Asia Pacific Mr. Don Boniash, and a number of Mr. Bobish’s colleagues who have the operational responsibility for the conduct of our relations with the People’s Republic of China.
We have successfully concluded a full day of closed door and in-depth discussions on Canada-China relations at Banff yesterday.
The Track Two Memorandum of Understanding between the China Institute and CPIFA was signed in Beijing in 2014, in the presence of then Ambassador Guy Saint-Jacques, and on the margins of the visit of then Prime Minister Harper. The first with the first two meetings held in Ottawa and Beijing respectively, in 2016 and 2017.
CPIFA has a long and notable heritage, having been founded by Premier Zhou Enlai.
I will also confess to being envious that the CPIFA headquarters are on an historic compound associated with the Ming and Qing dynasties, and in the shadow of the Forbidden City.
In yesterday’s discussions our two delegations, which included two former Foreign Ministers on the Canadian side, Hon. Lloyd Axworthy, and Hon. Peter MacKay, we examined in depth the bilateral relationship, including our economic relations, as well as Canadian and Chinese foreign policy, with special attention to the United States and the DPRK.
In terms of the bilateral relationship much effort was devoted to identifying areas where the two countries could expand and diversify an already strong relationship that has endured almost half a century.
I believe that the setting within a National Park, not coincidentally my home province, the intimate nature of a small roundtable encouraged a more nuanced dialogue than would have been possible in a more formal or more public venue.
While there can never be a substitute for the role of government officials in the design and execution of Canada’s foreign relations, and many of the officials who have that responsibility for the Canada-China relationship are here with us today, I am also of the view that our foreign policies are too important to be left entirely to the National Capital, or to foreign and international trade ministries.
Track II or Track 1.5 dialogues of persons familiar with the issues can, I believe, offer insights into complex issues that may benefit from a separation from the “hands-on” approach that necessarily is required of the on-line practitioners.
Not surprisingly, the challenges being faced by both Canada and China in managing its trade relations with the United States occupied a good portion of both the actual dialogue and the informal discussions on the margins.
But however charming and conducive Banff was to relaxed discussions of our respective foreign policies, I readily concede that it was important to bring the Chinese delegation to Ottawa to meet those officials who have special understanding of Canada’s foreign relations.
Both Canada and China are witnesses to, and participants in a time of stress and volatility in terms of both the political, the economic and the strategic environment in which both countries must make their way.
Both Canada and China are deeply dependent for their prosperity on the free flow of goods and services throughout the globe. But that which enriches us can also represent a vulnerability when international markets are deliberately constrained, and when the rules and norms of global trade are disrespected and even disregarded.
I think that I am reflecting the sentiments of both the Chinese and Canadian delegations when I say that the Dialogue had allowed both sides to better understand each other, our respective foreign policies, and our two countries.
But it is now my pleasure to invite His Excellency Wu Hailong, President of the Chinese People’s Institute for Foreign Affairs to give you a Chinese evaluation of the just-concluded dialogue.