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Transcript of Ambassador H.E. Lu Shaye's Interview with the Canadian Press

(From Chinese Embassy in Canada)


On June 29, Ambassador Lu Shaye received an exclusive interview in the Chinese Embassy from the Canadian Press journalists Mr. Mike Blanchfield and Mr. Andy Blatchford. The transcript of the interview is as follows:

Lu Shaye: Welcome to Chinese Embassy.

Journalist: Thank you for your time. Appreciate your time.

Journalist: I'd love to ask you about some of your priorities as the Ambassador here in Canada, what are some of the things you want to accomplish during your time here?

Lu Shaye: I have been asked about this question for many times. Many Canadian media are also interested in my priorities here. Generally speaking, my priority in Canada is to promote bilateral cooperation. But after a few months since I came here, through visits and contacts, I find there are some other priorities that need to be addressed, such as telling more stories about China and China-Canada relations to the Canadian public and media. Because I feel that the Canadian public and media do not have much knowledge about China, nor do they know much about the importance of Sino-Canadian relations and what it means to Canada. What's more, some Canadian media bear misunderstandings on Sino-Canadian relations and even prejudice against China. I don't think such a situation is conducive to the development of bilateral cooperation. So, I have tried to get in touch with Canadian media and public extensively, introducing to them China's development and China-Canada relations as far as possible. During the 4 months since I've been in Canada, I have visited 4 provinces and 6 cities, delivered 7 public speeches and received 4 exclusive interviews if including this one of yours. Each time I expressed my opinions about the current outstanding issues of the bilateral relations, exchanged views with the Canadian public and media. I think it works.

Journalist: Would you tell us more about this misunderstanding? Would you tell us more detail about this issue of Canadian media and public, and why is it so important to address it?

Lu Shaye: Take the bilateral trade for example. It seems the Canadian side always thinks it suffers more losses, worries that China would buy up its resources, steal its advanced technologies, and occupy its market if signing the FTA with China. In the meantime, it is vigilant against China, taking China as an enemy that will threaten its national security. Also, it looks down upon China, thinking China is good-for-nothing, with no democracy, human rights or freedom. It's not worth dealing with China, and it's not worth giving up its own values in return for benefiting from doing business with China. In a word, it is not willing to put China on an equal footing, deeming itself superior to China. These are some of the problems that I observed in Canadian media. But actually, I feel that lots of Canadian people I made direct contact with are very friendly toward China. The reason for that, I think, is that most of them have been to China and they know well about China.

Journalist: You mentioned human rights. What is it about, on that topic, that you don't think journalists should ask questions about it or the ways the questions are asked and something else, would you elaborate more on that, and why that displeases you?

Lu Shaye: Some Canadian media often mix human rights issue with economic and trade issues. They insist to link human rights with the FTA negotiation. I read from one Canadian newspaper that a Canadian scholar advocates that Canada should take the responsibility of safeguarding Chinese citizens' rights on Chinese territory, which made me feel very bizarre. I have said many times that we are not afraid of talking about human rights, but we merely don't want this issue mingled with the FTA negotiation. FTA is FTA, and we don't want too many non-economic and trading factors involved in it.

Journalist: It seems that the Canadian government wants to see that it's something that should be part of the FTA or talked about in the FTA. So what do you think about that? The media may write about it, which is fair enough for you to raise your point, but it seems that the government also brings this up to the discussion too. So what is your view on that?

Lu Shaye: I think the Canadian government is merely under the pressure of the media.

Journalist: Why do you say that?

Lu Shaye: Because I feel the Canadian media is quite powerful. Political powers sometimes have to bow to the media.

Journalist: So what is your prescription then, for how the media should interact with the government? Should it be, maybe, more like the United States, should the government push back more on the media, not be bowing more? What would you like to see, and how does this help to improve China's image in your view?

Lu Shaye: The Communist Party of China has a very good tradition, which is "From the masses, to the masses". That is to say, the government should listen to people's opinions and at the same time it should guide and lead the people for the good cause. If one thing is good for the people but some persons have different voice on it, the government should take the responsibility of carrying the publicity work and guiding the people, letting the people know the benefits they can get from it so as to gain their support. Why do you think China can make so many great achievements with so high efficiency? It's because the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government are good at listening to the public opinion and mobilizing and guiding the public for common cause.

Journalist: On free trade agreement, I was wondering what the most attractive aspects are for China, and also Canada and China already do a lot of bilateral trade. And I am just wondering, the tariffs for example are already quite low, why would a free trade deal be necessary?

Lu Shaye: The specific terms of the FTA should be left with experts from both countries. What I want to point out is that the purpose of signing the FTA between China and Canada is to open the markets as wide as possible to each other, facilitate the bilateral trade and boost mutual investment as far as we can. In early July, the two sides will hold the third round of exploratory discussions on the FTA. I hope the two sides can reach more consensus in this round of discussions and kick-start official negotiation of the FTA at an early date. This will be a win-win result.

Journalist: The Canada is consulting right now. And they will finish consulting soon, perhaps in the next few months. What if they consult again? What if they keep consulting before they start the talks? What do you think about that?

Lu Shaye: Keep on consulting? Endlessly?

Journalist: Well, they have one round now. Maybe they do a second round later.

Lu Shaye: Just like the exploratory discussions? At most there will be three rounds of that. I don't believe there will be more than three rounds of public consultations. But it's the business of Canadian government after all.

Journalist: OK, but is Canada taking too long, in your opinion? Or do you want to go faster or all this consulting is utter OK with you? That's all I want to understand.

Lu Shaye: It's totally up to the Canadian side. It can take as long as the Canadian side thinks it necessary. China is in no hurry. Just now I said the FTA is a win-win result for both countries, but actually it will bring much more benefits to Canada than to China. Because Canada is just a market with a population of 36 million, while China is a huge market with a population of more than 1.3 billion. Even if the FTA is signed, China's share in Canada's market will not increase too much. But Canada's export to China is destined to improve a lot. To Canada, the earlier it signs the FTA with China, the earlier it will benefit. I can tell you some figures. Now each year China's overall import is US$1600 billion and Canada's export to China each year amounts to US$17-18 billion, accounting for only 1% of China's total imports. If Canada increases its exports to China by one percentage point, reaching US$36 billion each year, how big wealth would it pick up! That's why I say the FTA is more beneficial to Canada than to China.

Journalist: How central would intellectual property be to the free trade agreement between China and Canada? We saw intellectual property is a large component of TPP and Canada's agreement with the European Union. And I was just wondering if this is something that will be included in this deal?

Lu Shaye: I have no idea about the specific extent. It should be determined through negotiations. But the Chinese side is for sure not against the protection of the intellectual property.

Journalist: We saw recent agreement last week in the security dialogue on not engaging cyber activities to steal business secrets from each other. Would there be smaller agreements like that moving forward as you move toward an FTA? Maybe you agree on some small aspects and get to a bigger deal later?

Lu Shaye: This is the consensus reached by the two sides in some fields. If we can reach more consensuses on more issues, they surely will amount to a larger consensus.

Journalist: Why was this particular agreement necessary for China?

Lu Shaye: Because China's technologies have been very advanced and we are worrying that our good stuff would be stolen by others. For example, China's Quantum communication, super computer, and IT are all very advanced.

Journalist: Do you think Canada might wanna steal some of these stuff and have they tried in the past? And you want to stop it?

Lu Shaye: What I see is that Canada is always afraid of China to steal its technology. That's why the agreement refrains the both sides from stealing business secrets from each other.

Journalist: I want to ask you about the infrastructure. I was wondering how interested Chinese investors are in large scale Canadian infrastructure opportunities, such as bridges, airports, transit systems?

Lu Shaye: I am not sure whether they are interested. But I found it quite difficult to build some large scale infrastructure projects in Canada. I am afraid that the Chinese investors don't have the patience to wait.

Journalist: Why is that? What are the obstacles?

Lu Shaye: You maybe know how quick and efficient it will be when China builds a large scale project?

Journalist: But in Canada, why there's concern that it will take too long and what's different in Canada for building large scale projects? Of course, you know, the government wants to open up investment to the outside, so I am sure Canada would be interested in Chinese investment. Infrastructure, you know, Canada's committed a large amount of money, so I am just wondering why it might not be appetizing?

Lu Shaye: Maybe the Canadian side has very complete formalities for conducting a large scale infrastructure project. So does China. We never skip any of them. The key is we go through every step very quickly so the whole project will be accomplished with a high speed. Let me give you an example. Recently the Canadian media reported that the Ontario government is planning to build a railway of about 400 km from Toronto to Windsor. It will be finished by the year of 2030. In May this year, China and the Kenyan government inaugurated the opening of a new 480 km railway from Nirobi to Mombasa in Kenya, which was only planned in May 2014, started building in January 2015, and finished in March 2017. If you compare these two roughly same distance railways, it only took China 3 years from planning to finish the project, and it's not only a 480 km railway, but also a project that includes 9 railway stations along the line.

Journalist: With this I want to ask you about your thoughts on Canada's infrastructure bank. It sounds it may not be interesting to Chinese investors. I am just wondering if Canadian officials have talked to China a lot about the infrastructure bank that the government is establishing?

Lu Shaye: No Canadian official has talked it with me. But I noticed that it seems the issue is quite controversial in Canada. I am not making irresponsible remarks on it.

Journalist: Another issue that I have read and is important to China, is getting cooperation from Canada to return economic fugitives who have come to Canada back to China. Chinese economic fugitives, I have seen it described by different names, such as Fox Hunt and Sky Net. Is Canada cooperating and being helpful to China?

Lu Shaye: In this regard, the two sides have carried out good cooperation.

Journalist: Can you put that into numbers? How many has Canada side helped China get back, and if Canada has said no? I mean not names, but just numbers.

Lu Shaye: I have not counted. Your question is too complicated for me.

Journalist: Fair enough. This is not skill testing question interviews. So that's OK. My apologies. But has Canada said no to any request from China? Just even once? Do you or do you not know?

Lu Shaye: I am not aware of these details.

Journalist: Can you talk generally about how big priority this is for the Chinese government? And how an extradition treaty with Canada might help?

Lu Shaye: If an extradition treaty is signed, the two sides will have a fixed legal framework to make cooperation in such cases smoother and more standardized.

Journalist: How close are you to convincing Canada that this is important? John McCallum, Canadian Ambassador to China, has said there're still concerns about the legal system in China, death penalty for example. How far apart are you, and how much time do you think it's gonna take?

Lu Shaye: I found that signing an extradition treaty with China seems to be a quite sensitive issue in Canada. I don't want to make our Canadian friends embarrassed. All I can say is that the signing of the extradition treaty is good not only for the Chinese side, but also for the Canadian side.

Journalist: Going back to investment, I was wondering if not infrastructure, where do Chinese investors like to invest in Canada? Where do they see the opportunities?

Lu Shaye: Are there anything in Canada that can attract Chinese investors? Maybe oil sands, or some so called advanced technologies. But several recent takeover cases seem to have gotten lots of criticism, which I think will make Chinese investors more prudent. With such a low international oil price, oil sands probably has no much attraction to Chinese investors. As for some still relatively advanced technologies and products, if encountered with too many obstacles, Chinese investors will also lose their interests, leaving those technologies less valuable in a few years.

Journalist: You have mentioned the free trade deal would help facilitate things, like trade and investment. So I am wondering what was in it, what would China like to see in terms of facilitating investment? Does China think a free trade deal could help alleviate some of these concerns with investment, and areas like advanced technology? I am wondering if there's nothing that much to invest in and are you hoping that you would actually facilitate some of the concerns we hear about some Chinese investments?

Lu Shaye: The purpose of signing the FTA is to provide a stable and predictable arrangement for the mutual investments so that the investors won't have to worry about any possible difficulties they might otherwise encounter.

Journalist: About the Norsat deal. The Prime Minister seemed to say the other day that it's been in some consultation and needs to go ahead. He's been criticized for that. What do you think of that?

Lu Shaye: I am not aware of the details of this takeover case. I just learned from the media that the Canadian government has approved this case. But at the same time I found that this case has caused an uproar in Canada society. I am not sure if the Canadian government's decision counts. This is a perspective for me to observe the investment environment in Canada.

Journalist: Can an FTA help the situation like this, do you think?

Lu Shaye: I think both sides will handle the similar uncertainties this case reflects in mutual investments in their negotiation of the FTA.

Journalist: I know you spoke about this in a speech, I want to ask you about where Canada can fit in with the One Belt One Road Project. Of course it's on an entire different continent physically, but what role can Canada play in the new Silk Road?

Lu Shaye: Actually the Belt and Road Initiative has provided a big market opportunity for all the countries around the world. Because the initiative grasps the crucial links to world's economic development, which is infrastructure construction. And it is based on the idea of mutual benefit, openness and inclusiveness. So even countries not along the land and maritime Silk Roads are also welcomed to join the initiative. All countries will have cooperative opportunities in this initiative.

Journalist: Has Canada shown interests specifically in this project?

Lu Shaye: In May this year, Canada sent a ministerial level representative to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing. The province of British Columbia signed a cooperation agreement under the framework of Belt and Road Initiative with Guangdong Province of China. Canada also joined the AIIB. All of these show Canada's interest in the Belt and Road Initiative.

Journalist: Go back to something you said earlier, about the government listening to the people, and maybe too much to media, pressure from the media. What do you think the government should do? Should it ignore the media? Should it give them less power, less freedom?

Lu Shaye: It is obvious that statesmen are not common people. Common people consider problems always from their own interest, while statesmen must take the country and people's overall and fundamental interests into consideration. But the overall and fundamental interests do not mean the simple aggregation of all the individual interests. So statesmen should have the courage and responsibilities to tell the people where the nation's overall and fundamental interests lie in. All the people will benefit from the realization of the nation's overall and fundamental interests, even if some individuals fail to totally realize their personal interests during the course. On the contrary, if the nation's overall and fundamental interests are harmed, all individuals' interests are bound to be harmed as well. Look at the Middle East, if a country is in a war, every citizen's interest is getting harmed. But if a country keeps peace and stable, even some part of people are not satisfied with the government, they can still live a peaceful and stable life. This is the Chinese way of governance.

Journalist: One subject I am hoping to ask you would be how could Canada and China cooperate on fighting climate change, and preserve the Paris Agreement?

Lu Shaye: China and Canada share similar positions on the climate change issue and both advocate fighting the climate change and preserving the Paris Agreement. China will honor its commitments made in the Paris Agreement and we also hope the developed countries to honor their commitments. Because the vast number of developing countries are depending on the technologies and funds to fight the climate change. This is the incumbent responsibility of the developed countries.

Journalist: Is it safe to say that at the G20 next week, Canada and China will be working together in that direction? Perhaps to persuade the U.S., which has changed its mind on Paris?

Lu Shaye: G20 summit is mainly a platform to discuss international economic and financial issues. I am not sure if the climate change will be a main topic for next week's G20 summit in Hamburg Germany. But I believe member countries will discuss it anyway.

Journalist: Just wondering what your impression is of how the Canadian and American relationship is now different with Donald Trump in office?

Lu Shaye: It seems to me Canada is more concerned about its relationship with the U.S. since Donald Trump took office. Canada-America trade frictions are on the rise. The visions of the two countries also differ on a lot of issues. The Canadians seem to be less certain about the future of its relationship with the U.S.

Journalist: Do you see this is an opportunity for China-Canada relations?

Lu Shaye: Don't think that China is taking advantage of it. It is our consistent policy to develop the cooperative relationship with Canada. And we will, as always, actively develop the friendly and cooperative relationship with Canada, no matter how the relationship between Canada and the U.S. goes.

Journalist: Well, you've been very generous with your time. Thank you very much. We all could talk all night, but neither one of us have all night. We really appreciate it.

Lu Shaye: Thank you for interviewing me today. I am willing to answer any questions you have.

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