Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will travel to China this weekend for the first official visit since assuming the portfolio following the Conservative Party’s victory in the May 2 federal election.
During his stay in Beijing and Shanghai from July 16 to 20, Baird will meet with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi to discuss ways to improve bilateral relations in political, economic, educational and cultural fields.
They will also prepare the ground for mutual visits by both countries’ leaders.
Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen visited China in December 2009 and the Chinese President Hu Jingtao paid a return visit to Canada last June before the G-8 and G-20 summits.
Official sources said that Baird will also address Chinese and Canadian business community as well as think-tanks to encourage more Chinese investment in Canada.
In his recent speech before a Toronto business audience, Baird said that China is incredibly important to Canada’s future prosperity.
According to Statistics Canada, the value of Canadian exports to China rose by 18.7 percent in 2010 to 13.2 billion U.S. dollars, an impressive jump from 4 billion U.S. dollars in 2002.
Baird’s first official visit to China was in July 2009 when he, as Transport and Infrastructure Minister, met with senior Chinese officials and members of the business community in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Macau.
Canada recognized the People’s Republic of China on October 13, 1970. It is one of the first Western countries to do so.
China is currently Canada’s second largest trading partner and Canada is China’s 13th largest. Although trade has grown fast during the 2000s, they are still thought to be below their potential.
Following his China trip, Baird will visit Indonesia from July 21 to 24 to attend the 44th ASEAN Ministerial Conference on regional security on the island of Bali.