From “having no doubts” to “knowing the mandate”

China will stay committed to pursuing high-quality development, advancing a high level of opening-up to the world, and providing new opportunities for countries worldwide, including Canada, with Chinese modernization.

2 mins read
This aerial panorama photo taken on July 3, 2023 shows the night view of an industrial park in Suzhou, east China's Jiangsu Province. (Xinhua/Li Bo)

In 1978, China made the significant strategic decision of reform and opening-up. Paul Desmarais, along with other Canadian entrepreneurs, founded the Canada China Business Council (CCBC) to promote economic and trade exchanges between the two countries.

Over the past 45 years, serving as a bridge linking the two countries, the CCBC has been committed to promoting bilateral economic and trade cooperation, advancing cultural exchanges, and enhancing the well-being of the two peoples.

Confucius said, “A man in his forties should have no doubts; at the age of fifty, one knows the mandate of heaven.” As the CCBC approaches its 50th birthday, it is becoming more fully-fledged.

Over the past 45 years, addressing doubts about whether countries with different systems like China and Canada can peacefully coexist, the CCBC and its Chinese partners have overcome various challenges, further realizing the mandate to achieve cooperation and mutual benefit on the basis of mutual respect.

Over the past 45 years, China-Canada trade and economic cooperation have witnessed remarkable growth. Bilateral trade in goods increased from only a few hundred million Canadian dollars in the 1970s to nearly 130 billion Canadian dollars (about 97 billion U.S. dollars) by 2022, with China being Canada’s second-largest trading partner for many years.

Last month, China successfully hosted the sixth China International Import Expo (CIIE), with nearly 80 Canadian companies participating.

Bilateral economic and trade cooperation has expanded beyond traditional sectors like energy, mining, and forestry to new areas such as environmental protection.

Over the past 45 years, Canadian products such as timber and coal from the western provinces, canola seeds and wheat from the prairie provinces, lobsters and snow crabs from the maritime provinces, and consumer goods from the central regions have gained an increasing presence in Chinese production lines, as well as in Chinese consumers’ shopping carts.

The achievements demonstrate the strong economic complementarity between our two countries. China’s great achievements over the 45 years of reform and opening-up have been an opportunity for Canada. China has worked to free people’s minds and seek truths from facts in its reform and opening-up journey. From “bringing in” to “going global,” China has been breaking new ground.

Today, China stands as the world’s second-largest economy, the largest manufacturer, and the biggest trader of goods. From 1978 to 2022, China’s GDP surged from 367.9 billion yuan (about 51.88 billion U.S. dollars) to 121 trillion yuan (about 17.06 trillion U.S. dollars), with an annual real growth rate of about 9 percent.

Since the beginning of this year, China’s economy has continued to recover and improve, with a 5.2-percent growth in GDP in the first three quarters. China has announced the complete removal of restrictions on foreign investment in the manufacturing sector, and has taken proactive steps to align with international standards and trade rules such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Digital Economic Partnership Agreement (DEPA), and will further deepen reforms and opening-up in sectors like technology, telecommunications, and culture. The recently concluded Central Economic Work Conference stressed that China will deepen reforms in key areas, as well as open wider at a high standard. China remains the most powerful engine of global growth and will generate one-third of global growth this year.

Looking ahead, China will stay committed to pursuing high-quality development, advancing a high level of opening-up to the world, and providing new opportunities for countries worldwide, including Canada, with Chinese modernization.

It is hoped that as the bilateral relationship matures, more and more Canadians will embrace the principles followed by the CCBC, namely, mutual respect, seeking common ground while shelving differences, expanding cooperation, and managing disputes, so as to help bring the China-Canada ties back to the right track at an early date.

Cong Peiwu

Cong Peiwu has served as China’s Ambassador to Canada since 2019. Ambassador Cong has held several positions within the Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, including director-general (2014–2019). Previously, he served as minister-counsellor and minister within the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (2009–2014). He graduated from China Foreign Affairs University.

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