Date
22 January 2017
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (left) shakes hands with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday. Photo: Reuters
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (left) shakes hands with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday. Photo: Reuters

China, Canada resolve canola trade row, mull extradition pact

Canada and China on Thursday has settled a trade dispute and say they will start exploratory talks on a free trade pact.

However, they gave few details about a possible extradition treaty for Chinese fugitives which has triggered criticism in Canada, Reuters reports.

Canada’s Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, elected last year, is trying to improve ties and increase trade with the world’s second-largest economy after a decade of rocky relations under his Conservative predecessor, the news agency said.

Trudeau and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who had already met in Beijing earlier this month, agreed to solve a drawn-out dispute over exports of Canadian canola, worth C$2 billion (US$1.53 billion) a year.

“Our progress on this file goes to show how two countries willing to collaborate can solve difficult challenges together,” Trudeau told a joint news conference.

China has been questioning the quality of canola coming from Canada.

A worldwide surplus of the crop has allowed China to put pressure on its international suppliers, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Canada is the world’s largest canola exporter, and exports over 40 percent to China, CBC News said.

Li, who is on a four-day official visit to Canada following the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, said the deal reflected China’s goodwill to Canadian canola farmers.

For all the friendly talk, Trudeau is under pressure from domestic critics who charge he is too willing to make concessions in return for more trade with China.

Both nations are now talking about an extradition treaty, which China has long wanted so it can press for the return of what it says are corrupt officials who fled to Canada.

Human rights advocates oppose this, citing what they say is a flawed Chinese justice system.

“It will be very important that any future agreement will be based on reflecting the realities, the principals, the values that our citizens hold dear,” said Trudeau.

Li did not answer directly when pressed what guarantees China would give that deportees would not be tortured.

Outside, on the lawns in front of Parliament, hundreds of yellow-clad Falun Gong members – a religious and meditation group that is banned in China – held a protest.

Talk of a possible extradition treaty comes days after Kevin Garratt, a Canadian held in China for two years and charged with spying, was deported to Canada.

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