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Jean-Guy Carrier: China-Canada ties, A forerunner of China's relationship to the West


By Jean-Guy Carrier     Source: CGTN    Published: 2019-9-27

Editor's note: To mark the PRC's 70th founding anniversary, CGTN has introduced a special series "70 Years through Foreigners' Eyes." In the third episode, Jean-Guy Carrier, non-resident senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China (RDCY); executive chairman, Silk Road Chamber of International Commerce (SRCIC) , shares his views on Canada's historic relations with China.

When I was born in Canada 73 years ago, the people of China were suffering through a civil war, which had destroyed the lives of thousands and shattered society. As a child in my first years of school, my fellow pupils and I donated to charities to feed hungry children in China. We could not imagine the courage of the Chinese people at that time in taking the first steps to raise themselves and their nation out of chaos and misery. We could not imagine that the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) would lead in the next 70 years to prodigious accomplishments and to the summit of international respect and recognition.

As a young student I was aware of the contribution of one notable Canadian to the people of China: Dr. Norman Bethune, a physician from Montreal, who had spent almost two years, starting in January 1938 with the Chinese Eighth Route Army, bringing modern medical practice and medicine to the front lines and China's rural areas. The harsh conditions of the war contributed to his death in less than two years. His selfless commitment left the Chinese people a profound impression; even late Chairman Mao Zedong wrote an essay in memory of him.

Dr. Bethune is buried in the Revolutionary Martyrs' Cemetery, Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province. Statues in his honor can be found in cities throughout China.

Canada's former prime minister Pierre Trudeau has played an important role in the further opening of China to the world during the 1970s. Formal diplomatic recognition of China's government was Trudeau's top foreign policy priority when he took office in 1968. On October 13, 1970 Canada and China established official diplomatic relations and opened diplomatic missions in 1971.

The presence of a diplomatic mission in its neighbor Canada, and the influence of the government of Canada played a role in the opening of U.S.-China relations.  Later, the United States and the People's Republic of China established formal diplomatic relations on January 1, 1979. The relationship with Canada also helped break the logjam in the United Nations on the vote in October 1971 to recognize the People's Republic as the official holder of China's seat in the UN General Assembly. From then on, Pierre Trudeau was officially "a great friend of China."

As secretary-general of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in 2013, I officially welcomed the announcement by President Xi Jinping of the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The ICC recognized the BRI as the most ambitious development initiative in human history and urged the millions of companies across 140 countries to support or join the BRI.

In the current atmosphere of confrontation stirred by the U.S. trade war, the BRI is more than ever a subject of controversy, with its defenders, mostly among recipient countries for BRI project funding, maintaining that BRI is a path to social and economic development. The opposing view is that the BRI is at best a debt trap for developing countries.

This year, researchers at the World Bank produced the first credible, dispassionate and balanced assessment of the impacts the BRI is having on the lives of people in countries with significant BRI projects. The report, "Opportunities and risks of Belt and Road transport corridors," is presented as an effort "to gather data that enables policymakers in 70 countries (..of the more than 100 signed up for BRI projects) along these (BRI) corridors to make evidence-based assessments of how to maximize the benefits and manage the risks of participating in BRI."

Its conclusions are as balanced as its goals, dealing with every meaningful measure from poverty alleviation and improvements in trade, to the corrosive effects of corruption by pouring so much money into countries already suffering from that plague. The findings have the strength of being clear and well supported by research. There will be those who ignore it as an academic exercise. It should instead be welcomed as an instructive and constructive contribution to understanding the impact of the BRI on the ground, and in lives of real people.

The World Bank report is important as the first truly objective assessment of China's historic effort to apply the lessons from its own experience in raising millions of people out of poverty to other peoples of the world that desperately need progress and development.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC. As a global leader in economic development, innovative technologies, poverty alleviation and a proactive partner to defend multilateral, win-win approaches for trade and investment, and in coping with the climate issue, China today has risen higher than at any other time in its long history.

I have been a witness and an honored participant in China's dramatic changes over the last 70 years. As a senior fellow of the Chongyang Institute at Renmin University, I have the privilege of sharing in the intellectual life of China. My life and that of millions of people around the world has been affected by Chinese friends and colleagues and by the effects of their energetic drive to establish a new role for China in the world. That influence has reached into my own family.

The founding of the People's Republic of China has transformed the world over the last 70 years, bringing China into the community of nations and Asia to prominence in the world economy.

For individuals like me, the tremendous work of the people of China to fulfill their ambitions for peace and prosperity in their country and in the world, continues to raise the standard of living for all of us. That is an historic achievement worthy of a celebration by all the people of this small planet on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

Jean-Guy Carrier  is the executive chairman of th Silk Road Chamber of International Commerce and a non-resident senior fellow of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.

Key Words: China   70 Years through Foreigners' Eyes   RDCY   Jean-Guy Carrier   

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