Canada negotiates bilateral free trade agreements with the following countries and trading blocs: Although talks have stalled for several years, Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne has said that a trade agreement with Beijing should no longer be pursued. “I don`t see the conditions right now for these discussions to continue at that time,” Champagne said in an interview with The Globe and Mail. “China in 2020 is not china of 2016.” This article first appeared on Policy Options and is published here under Creative Commons license. In December 2017, Mr. Trudeau visited China for the second time, but left the country without the agreement he expected with formal free trade talks. Chinese media pilloried the Canadian media, which pointed out that China was in fifth place in the latest ranking of the World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders.  In 2018, the two countries jointly proclaimed Canada`s Year of Tourism of China to promote visits to and from both countries.  The Council of Canadians sincerely thanks the tens of thousands of our supporters who spoke on FIPA and those who generously supported the legal challenge of Hupacasath. Thanks to your joint efforts, the Canada-China FIPA became a major responsibility for Stephen Harper in 2012 as he prepares for the next general election. A new consensus seems to have been reached on Parliament Hill. The pious sermon, which generally marks the Conservative government`s approach to Sino-Canadian relations, has been cleverly supplanted by a far more cautious tactic: diplomacy! The focus is now on China`s enormous potential as an emerging consumer market and a place of investment for Canadian banking and insurance interests. This change in the Conservative Party`s strategy is not surprising.
While a position of principle and (largely rhetorical) on China`s human rights record can be taken into account in addressing some of the most gullible elements of Canadian society, it is unlikely to have a discernible impact on internal security or on communist Party containment procedures. Nor is it particularly related to Canadian trade policy. As we have seen below, Ottawa has often sacrificed the principle of profit to strengthen the country`s relative competitiveness. In addition, China`s political elite recognizes that many “liberal democrat” regimes have a history of racial discrimination, dual language on foreign policy, and other issues and human rights violations. And they do not appreciate being unfairly dominated by countries like Canada, which continue to face serious and persistent social and political problems such as homelessness, child poverty, police brutality and the less satisfactory living conditions of many isolated Aboriginal communities. China`s economic changes have been truly remarkable, and there are good reasons (historical and political) to believe that the pursuit of constructive engagement and liberal trade negotiations could effectively defuse the Communist Party`s coercive tendencies. Indeed, the most impressive evolution of this period was the emergence of an increasingly cosmopolitan and confident bourgeois caste, which modernity wanted to adopt on several levels. China now has about 200 million middle-class consumers, and the most optimistic forecasts indicate that 25% of the country`s population could achieve middle-class status by 2010. The impact and importance of this explosion of prosperity should not be underestimated. As Barrington Moore`s study on the “social origins of democracy and dictatorship” has shown, there is an imperative link between entrepreneurship and the prosperity of the middle class, as well as freedom and democracy.