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Canada welcomes Chinese investment

Updated: 2013-10-21 00:38
By HE WEI in Shanghai ()

Governor general meets with Xi, Li, stresses importance of bilateral ties

Canada welcomes Chinese investment 

David Johnston,  Canadian Governor General

Canada will continue to welcome Chinese investment and has taken concrete steps to facilitate capital inflow to further strengthen economic interdependence with China, Canadian Governor General David Johnston said on Saturday.

A foreign investment protection act between Canada and China is being ratified as part of the latest attempts to encourage cross-border investments between the two countries, said Johnston, who is on his first state visit to China.

"Canada is amongst the most open jurisdictions in the world for foreign investment, and that will continue to be the case. So of course Chinese investment will be highly welcome," he told China Daily in Shanghai.

Ottawa has turned down only three proposed foreign investment deals in the past decade, Johnston said, two of them for national security reasons.

The third one is in the oil sands sector, he said, where a specific review process is a prerequisite before a Canadian company's majority ownership takeover by a foreign entity is allowed.

This is reflected in the case of the acquisition of Canada-based oil producer Nexen by China National Offshore Oil Corp. The buyout was put under regulatory approval from the Canadian government.

Johnston said the process will not prevent joint ventures or other investments from State-owned enterprises from any part of the world, including China, into Canada's energy sector.

While inbound investment into Canada's energy industry exhibited a relatively sluggish pattern in 2013, dropping to $2 billion from $27 billion a year ago, Johnston said he was optimistic the number in five years' time will bounce back to a normal and healthy level.

Johnston kicked off his visit to China on Friday, and met with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang to discuss a wide range of issues in bilateral relations and inked three agreements on mineral resources, sustainable energy development and the purchase of three aircraft.

"The opportunity to meet with both leaders so early on in their new tenures is exciting and cordial for us. These relationships are absolutely key to our future development," he said.

He emphasized the strong bilateral ties, touted the remarkable contributions that the 1.25 million Chinese-Canadians make to his nation and highlighted the necessity to bring the relationship to the next level.

"What I worry most about is the complacency that we take such a good relationship for granted and we don't work every day to improve it," said the visiting governor general, whose itinerary includes other key Chinese cities including Nanjing, Chengdu and Guangzhou.

Apart from expanding trade and investment, Johnston's agenda also includes embracing more collaboration on the innovation front. He stressed the importance of technological and social innovation for the two countries, and said he hoped to see further potential being unlocked in green energy and best practices in sustainable development.

Johnston said the best way to stimulate innovation is by "experiencing others dealing with the same issue but from a different angle".

The same logic applies to the strengthening of people-to-people communication, which he valued the most in promoting exchanges in education, culture and tourism.

Johnston said he was pleased to see the growth in Canada's tourism sector, after Beijing granted Ottawa Approved Destination Status in 2009. Forty percent of visas issued to Chinese applicants in 2012 allowed multiple entries, a scenario rarely seen in the past.

His family has a deep cultural link with China. Four of Johnston's daughters studied and stayed in China for some time.

During his stay in Shanghai, the governor general met with Canadian students to discuss innovation and education in both countries' education systems. He also witnessed the signing of an agreement between the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Medicine and the Shanghai Jiao Tong University's School of Medicine, on a strategic partnership in medical education and training.

Student exchanges between China and Canada soared in the past few years, with more than 84,000 Chinese students studying in Canada — the largest number of international students, while approximately 3,400 Canadian students are studying in China.

Johnston said that an earlier-set target of 100,000 enrolled students in such exchanges by 2015 will be achieved a lot sooner.

"We will continue to work very hard to try to be sure that we are competitive with other countries in attracting talents, and even a little bit ahead of them," he said.