China wants to end impasse with Canada by meeting halfway: envoy – Global News

China wants to end impasse with Canada by meeting halfway: envoy - Global News
China to increase examination of Canadian pork imports
China's Ambassador to Canada Lu Shaye participates in an interview at the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Canada, in Ottawa on Thursday, June 29, 2017.

China’s ambassador to Canada says his government wants to end the countries’ impasse but won’t give way on two of Canada’s major complaints.

The notice from the Ministry of Agriculture, first reported by Reuters, said the embassy in Beijing had been told the Chinese would open all containers of Canadian meat and meat products and in some cases 100 per cent of the contents will be inspected.

“Indeed, the bilateral relations between China and Canada are facing serious difficulties right now,” Lu Shaye said Tuesday at the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa, in an interview through an interpreter. “The Chinese side is not responsible for this issue. But the Chinese government is waiting to make a joint effort with the Canadian side and meet each other halfway.”

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Hard-nosed Chinese ambassador Lu Shaye leaving Ottawa post for promotion to Paris

READ MORE: Canada’s agriculture minister meets briefly with Chinese counterpart about canola at G20

China, locked in a major diplomatic and trade dispute with Ottawa over the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, has already blocked imports of Canadian canola seed and temporarily suspended import permits from two pork plants.

When asked about the possibility of freeing two Canadians detained in China on espionage charges, however, Lu offered little wiggle room. And on China’s blocking Canadian canola imports, he considers the matter closed.

Canada’s relationship with Beijing has deteriorated rapidly since the December arrest of a Chinese telecom giant’s chief financial officer in Vancouver. The arrest of Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou was carried out after an extradition request by the United States.

In his interview with Power Play, Lu also accused the United States of intentionally manoeuvring to hurt Chinas high-tech sector. He said the U.S. suppressed Huawei and pushed Mengs arrest as a tool to launch a trade war against China "because Huawei is the most famous high technology enterprise of China" and the US are trying "to hinder, to obstruct Chinas high-tech development."

Video: China steps up social media censorship on Tiananmen Square anniversary | #TheCube

Meng’s arrest has outraged Beijing and Chinese authorities have demanded her release. Since Meng’s arrest, China has detained two Canadians on allegations of endangering the country’s national security, sentenced two Canadians to death for drug-related convictions and rejected important agricultural shipments.

"The most vivid memory, and Im still haunted by it, is watching students pick up bloody bodies on trishaws, those tricycles with a little cage in the back, and throwing the bodies literally onto those tricycles and heading off to the hospital. You have to take a deep breath when you see that happening."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has sought international support in condemning China’s decision to, in his word, “arbitrarily” arrest Michael Kovrig, a Canadian diplomat on leave, and businessman Michael Spavor.

Last week on a visit to Ottawa, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence linked the liberation of the two imprisoned Canadians to American trade talks with China.

In response to questions on Power Play about the anniversary, Lu said Chinas achievements over the past 70 years prove the country "chose the right developmental path" and will "continue to advance along the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics."

The offer is significant because the Chinese government has rebuffed requests from Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland to speak with her counterpart.

Pence said U.S. President Donald Trump would push Chinese President Xi Jinping on Kovrig and Spavor at the G20 leaders’ summit later this month. Trudeau is also expected to travel to Japan for that summit.

READ MORE: Canada has ‘very few options’ to secure release of Canadians being held in China: experts

Also on Tuesday, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said China has stepped up inspections of Canadian pork products on the grounds that its concerned about smuggling and African swine fever — an illness that can be devastating among pigs. Thats in addition to previously stated Chinese concerns about the labelling of Canadian pork.

When it comes to Kovrig and Spavor, he said “the relevant departments of China will investigate the case, follow the Chinese laws, international practice and the consular agreement between China and Canada, and provide relevant treatment to them.”

Mengs arrest has outraged Beijing and Chinese authorities have demanded her release. Since Mengs arrest, China has detained two Canadians on allegations of endangering the countrys national security, sentenced two Canadians to death for drug-related convictions and rejected important agricultural shipments.

Canadas Tiananmen anniversary statement grossly offside, envoy complains

Lu spoke at length about China’s trade war with the U.S., which has rattled international markets and poses a threat to the global economy. He listed numerous examples of how he said the American side has backtracked during bilateral negotiations that began over a year ago.

“We salute the heroes of the Chinese people who bravely stood up 30 years ago in Tiananmen Square to demand their rights. Their exemplary courage has served as an inspiration to future generations calling for freedom and democracy around the world, beginning with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of communism in Eastern Europe in the months that followed,” Pompeo said in a statement Monday.

The decline of Canada-China relations has also led to some direct economic consequences for Canadian businesses.

The government appears to be treading carefully – relations with China are at an all-time low following the arrests of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who are being held without access to lawyers and receive consular visits only about once a month. Ottawa’s calls for their immediate release have prompted angry dismissals and admonishments from Beijing.

China has been a huge market for Canadian canola seed, which is crushed to make cooking oil. The country imported $2.7 billion worth of Canadian canola seed last year, and any drawn-out blockage will hurt farmers, the industry and the national economy.

“It’s difficult to watch people die. It’s difficult to watch people being crushed by tanks. And it’s difficult to be in a hospital, in the morgue section, and taking a look at the bodies that were once, moments before, chanting slogans about democracy and talking about freedom and that sort of thing,” Munson said in an interview Tuesday.

China has stonewalled requests for Canadian experts to examine Chinese evidence that two canola-seed shipments contained pests.

“We have real concerns about China’s behaviour in regards to human rights and we’ll continue to advocate – both directly with Chinese leadership, as I have every time I have sat down with them, and indirectly with our allies – for better respect of human rights on this anniversary and every day going forward.”

Lu said Chinese officials investigated the Canadian canola “based on regulations and science principles.”

Lu was asked for his thoughts on the possibility of working with a Canadian government led by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who recently promised to take a harder line with China if he wins Octobers federal election. The envoy said he would not comment on Canadas domestic matters and said his country is willing to build relations with all political parties.

“The Chinese side provided concrete documents about the investigation,” he said. “The relevant Chinese departments maintain no more contact with their Canadian counterparts. The documents have already been provided.”

In an interview last week, International Trade Minister Jim Carr said Canada wants to engage with China on the canola issue. In the meantime, Carr said, Canada had been trying to increase canola sales in other markets such as Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates.

Mengs arrest has outraged Beijing and Chinese authorities have demanded her release. Since Mengs arrest, China has detained two Canadians on allegations of endangering the countrys national security, sentenced two Canadians to death for drug-related convictions and rejected important agricultural shipments.

Also on Tuesday, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said China has stepped up inspections of Canadian pork products on the grounds that it’s concerned about smuggling and African swine fever — an illness that can be devastating among pigs. That’s in addition to previously stated Chinese concerns about the labelling of Canadian pork.

“We are working with producers and industry to underscore the importance of heightened quality assurance efforts to ensure there are no trade disruptions due to administrative errors,” Bibeau said in a statement.

The Trudeau government has come under pressure to follow the American lead and ban Huawei from supplying equipment for Canada’s next-generation 5G wireless networks. Pence raised the matter with Trudeau last week in front of reporters.

Chinas sow herd – being closely watched by the global livestock market as an epidemic of incurable African swine fever kills millions of animals in the worlds top pork producer – fell by 22.3% in April from a year earlier, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said last month.

He argued letting Huawei participate would be against American security interests. Trudeau replied by reiterating that Canadian government would rely on evidence from its own security agencies before making a decision.

Canadian Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said in a statement that Ottawa was working with producers to underscore the importance of heightened quality assurance efforts to ensure there are no trade disruptions due to administrative errors.

Huawei has denied allegations that its digital communications equipment is a tool of Chinese state espionage. Lu echoed that position Tuesday.

A Canadian agriculture ministry notice seen by Reuters said the Canadian Embassy in Beijing had been told Chinese customs agents would open all containers of Canadian meat and meat products, and that in some cases 100% of the contents would be inspected.

Lu was asked for his thoughts on the possibility of working with a Canadian government led by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who recently promised to take a harder line with China if he wins October’s federal election. The envoy said he would not comment on Canada’s domestic matters and said his country is willing to build relations with all political parties.

The case of Meng, the telecom giant’s senior executive, will return to a Vancouver courtroom on Thursday. It has drawn interest from around the world.

A statement from Canada’s Justice Department said Tuesday that the purpose of the proceeding is to address additional applications in Meng’s extradition case and to set future court dates.

The new dates will not be for the actual extradition hearing, which has yet to be scheduled, and Meng is not expected to attend Thursday’s proceeding in person, the statement says.

The U.S. Department of Justice laid 13 criminal charges, including conspiracy, fraud and obstruction, against Huawei and Meng, who is the daughter of the company’s founder.