Chinese Premier to Visit Canada

Li Keqiang will visit Ottawa, Montreal
September 19, 2016 Updated: September 21, 2016

Just weeks after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited China, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is coming to Canada on an official visit from Sept. 21 to 24.

While in Canada, Li will make stops in Ottawa and Montreal. A detailed itinerary of Li’s visit has not been released, but according to a Chinese-language website, he will be at Parliament Hill and the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa on Sept. 22.

Li will visit Canada after concluding a trip to New York to attend the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly, which got underway last week. He will also make an official visit to Cuba.

In Ottawa, Li will meet with Trudeau and other officials to discuss Canada-China relations. He will also travel to Montreal to meet with members of the business community and the Chinese-Canadian community.

Trudeau and Li will explore “how to expand the potential of the Canada-China relationship and create new opportunities for the middle class and those working hard to join it—including in the areas of trade and investment, environmental cooperation, legal and judicial collaboration, cultural exchanges, and people-to-people ties,” according to a statement by Trudeau’s office.

One of the most watched issues during Trudeau’s visit to China was Beijing’s plan to cease Canadian canola seed imports that had levels of extraneous plant material, or dockage, exceeding 1 percent of the shipment. Canada’s canola industry says such a move could effectively halt the country’s canola seed export to China.

The original deadline for the new rules was Sept. 1, but Trudeau announced that China won’t be imposing that deadline and the two sides will continue to work on finding a solution.

While Trudeau was in China, the two countries made agreements to launch a feasibility study on a free trade deal, as well as start discussions on a bilateral extradition treaty, which, according to the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, “would facilitate the return of corrupt fugitive Chinese officials who remain at large in Canada.”

Li’s visit comes days after China released and deported Kevin Garratt, a Canadian who was detained in China for two years on allegations of espionage. Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion has insisted that Canada did not make concessions to China to have Garratt released, the CBC reported.

“It’s not the style of the prime minister,” said Dion when questioned if Canada made a deal for Garratt’s return.

Meanwhile, Canadians with family members currently detained in China as prisoners of conscience are asking Canadian officials to help release them. There are currently 10 Canadians who have family members detained in China for their practice of Falun Gong, a spiritual meditation practice severely persecuted in China.

A cross-Canada car tour has been raising awareness about these prisoners of conscience as well as reports of state-sanctioned organ harvesting from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience in China. The tour was launched in July, shortly after the release of a new report that put the number of transplants in China at 60,000 to 90,000 per year, far higher than originally thought. The primary source of the organs, according to the report, is Falun Gong adherents.

Li’s visit follows a visit by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi earlier this year, made infamous by Wang’s scolding of a Canadian reporter who asked Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion about China’s human rights situation and Garratt’s detainment.

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