China and Canada should initiate negotiations on a free trade agreement as soon as possible, President Xi Jinping said on Thursday, while calling for joint efforts to promote bilateral trade.
The two countries should push forward cooperation in such areas as energy, resources, modern agriculture and clean technology, Xi said during his meeting with David Johnston, governor general of Canada, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing.
The two leaders witnessed the signing of two memorandums of understanding on establishing the China-Canada Joint Committee on Culture and Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games cooperation.
Noting that China and Canada both have importance in the Asia-Pacific region, Xi said the two nations have wide common interests and huge space for cooperation. China would like to maintain high-level exchanges with Canada, make full use of dialogue mechanisms at all levels and expand exchanges in government departments, legislative bodies and political parties, he said.
The president called on the two countries to respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, and to push forward the development of the China-Canada strategic partnership.
China and Canada should deepen cooperation in areas including trade, law enforcement, science and people-to-people exchanges, Xi said, adding that the two countries should make full use of each other’s complementary advantages to achieve mutual benefits.
Johnston started a five-day visit to China on Monday. He visited the Chongqing Planning Exhibition Gallery on Tuesday in Chongqing and had a hot pot meal with Chinese students who will go to Canada to study in autumn.
Canada admires China’s achievements in sustainable development, poverty reduction, environment protection and scientific areas, Johnston said.
Canada would like to enhance high-level exchanges with China; strengthen cooperation in trade, science and sports; and boost communication in global and regional affairs, he said.
Johnson recalled his first visit to China in 1980, when he worked at a Canadian university re-establishing medical exchanges with Chinese hospitals and universities.
“Mr President, it’s wonderful to be back in China. I feel I’m like returning home,” he told Xi.
Premier Li Keqiang also held talks with Johnston on Thursday afternoon, during which Li called on Canada to make joint efforts with China to send a signal supporting free trade to promote global economic recovery.