Ambassador Lu Shaye made his first trip to Saskatchewan this week and sat down with the StarPhoenix on Thursday to discuss the visit, bilateral trade and other issues.
Q: What are you hoping to achieve by coming to Saskatoon and Saskatchewan?
A: This time I come to Saskatchewan to attend an international symposium which is being held this morning. The day before yesterday I have a meeting with provincial Premier Brad Wall, and we have exchanged views about co-operation between Saskatchewan and the Chinese side, and we have achieved many consensuses.
Q: China is a significant trading partner for Saskatchewan. Where are there opportunities to boost that trade?
A: Yes. China is the second-largest trade partner of Saskatchewan, and we in import many products of this province including canola, potassium and other agriculture products. The trade volume between Saskatchewan and China amounts to $3.6 billion - so that's a big volume. And I think with the huge markets of China, we will have (more) projects of trade with Saskatchewan, especially if the two countries - China and Canada - will successfully reach an FTA (free trade agreement).
Q: How likely is that?
A: The Chinese side and the Canadian side have finished the third round of exploratory discussions of a China-Canada FTA. And the two sides have reached many consensuses about that. I think I'm personally optimistic for the negotiation of an FTA between our two sides, because we are in an area of globalization. No country can be developed without international partners.
Q: The uranium industry is very weak at the moment, but companies in the industry have said reactor construction in China and other places should help prices recover. Do you plan to boost your reliance on nuclear power?
A: Nuclear energy is clean energy, in principle, because there is no emission. Nuclear energy accounts only for four or five per cent of total consumption of energy in China. We will increase the development of nuclear energy, no problem. But I don't think we will depend on that energy, because in China we have energy … from oil or coal and hydroenergy. China, like Canada, we have a lot of hydroenergy potential.
Q: How important is it for China to strengthen its relationship with Canada given uncertainty surrounding President Donald Trump and the U.S.?
A: The diplomatic policy of China is to seek the most partners in the world. So no matter what government (is in) the U.S., developing friendship and co-operation with Canada is not changing.
Q: There have been a lot of concerns raised about North Korea recently. What is happening there and does it have any potential impact on China's relationship with Canada?
A: Chinese policy on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue is consistent, which is that we are committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, to pacific resolution of this issue and to prevent (instability) and even a war. So China is collaborating with international partners to de-escalate the tension, the situation.
Q: What areas of the trade relationship between China and Saskatchewan don't exist or are weak, that you'd like to see strengthened?
A: Agriculture and high technology and great projects of infrastructure, because China has a big capability in this regard and Canada has a big demand.