Canada, China agree to tighten trade ties, mull extradition pact

Thu Sep 22, 2016 7:55pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada and China on Thursday settled a trade dispute and said they would start exploratory talks on a free trade pact, but gave few details about a possible extradition treaty for Chinese fugitives which has triggered criticism in Canada.

Canada's Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, elected last year, is trying to improve ties and increase trade with the world's second-largest economy after a decade of rocky relations under his Conservative predecessor.

Trudeau and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who had already met in Beijing earlier this month, agreed to solve a drawn-out dispute over exports of Canadian canola, worth C$2 billion a year.

"Our progress on this file goes to show how two countries willing to collaborate can solve difficult challenges together," Trudeau told a joint news conference. Li said the deal reflected China's goodwill to Canadian canola farmers.

For all the friendly talk, Trudeau is under pressure from domestic critics who charge he is too willing to make concessions in return for more trade with China.

Both nations are now talking about an extradition treaty, which China has long wanted so it can press for the return of what it says are corrupt officials who fled to Canada. Human rights advocates oppose this, citing what they say is a flawed Chinese justice system.

"It will be very important that any future agreement will be based on reflecting the realities, the principals, the values that our citizens hold dear," said Trudeau.

Li did not answer directly when pressed what guarantees China would give that deportees would not be tortured.   Continued...

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (2nd R) and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau pose with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (2nd L) and his wife Cheng Hong before the start of a dinner at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, September 22, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Wattie