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Wednesday, December 02, 2009 

What The Chinese Are Saying About Stephen Harper

"Ottawa has aggressively criticized Beijing for its human rights record and for alleged spying. Harper was not among world leaders at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and he irritated China by embracing the Dalai Lama. However, an aide to the prime minister signaled a shift in Ottawa's China policy ahead of the visit, telling media "new global realities demand a modernized Canada-China relationship".

"The prime minister's visit will be a key opportunity to extend our presence in China and to promote Canadian interests," Dimitri Soudas, said on Sunday.

In another positive sign, the spokesman avoided responding to a question about whether Harper will ask for the value of the yuan to be allowed to rise, a request that premier Wen Jiabao rebuffed during Monday's summit with European leaders.

"Just like he doesn't comment on the value of the Canadian dollar, he doesn't comment on the value of other currencies," Soudas said.

Chinese experts have said the apparent change in Ottawa's attitude was driven by criticism from Canadian businesspeople seeking opportunities in China in the face of losses brought about by the sluggish US economy.

Pang Zhongying, an international affairs expert at Renmin University of China, said that following the financial crisis and US president Barack Obama's four-day visit to China, Canada had "second thoughts about its attitude toward China".

China Daily Online

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