Ever since Canadian PM Justin Trudeau announced his trip to China, the visit has been seen as an opportunity for Canada to convince China on some pressing issues that has got the Trudeau administration discomfited, and for good reason. It is without a doubt that while Trudeau’s father was the first Canadian PM to visit China during his tenure, this time round, the Trudeau administration faces the delicate task of trying to convince China that it needs Canada at a time when many Canadians are still on the fence when it comes to whether they want more of China.
According to many analysts, this recent trip to China comes at a time when Canada itself is facing the largest drop in its Gross Domestic Product since 2009, thanks to the wildfires that have disrupted oil and gas operation in Alberta, since Canada too depends on oil exports when it comes to its economic well being. Part of the strategy to strengthen the relationship between China and Canada is to create free trade opportunities.
This is also one of the reasons why Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland, the trade minister have been working on a feasibility study on free trade opportunities between Canada and China, which actually comes as no surprise as China is already Canada’s second largest trading partner after the US.
Recently, a survey showed that the amount of Canadians who held a favorable impression on China has dropped by almost 19%. This was due to the incident where a Canadian man was held in China on accusations of espionage.
The Trudeau administration will have a tough time in negotiating a release of the Canadian citizen who has been languishing in a Chinese prison for over a year. This coupled with the fact that an EKOS poll, which is commissioned for the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada has also found that Canadians are split down the middle when it comes to a free trade agreement between China and Canada.