After U.S. oil snub, Canada focuses on China
China does not currently import Canadian crude. Enbridge Inc wants to build a pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific but it could take years to approve and complete the project.
China's international oil firms, taking a more long-term view, have spent or pledged to invest more than C$11 billion ($11.1 billion) in Canada's energy patch since 2005.
TOP LEVEL MEETINGS
During his trip Harper will meet President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao as well as two important regional players - Chongqing Communist Party chief Bo Xilai and Wang Yang, the chief of Guangdong province.
The Canadian mission, which will arrive in Beijing on Tuesday, is the largest of its kind since 1998. Guests include top executives from Shell Canada, Enbridge and Canadian Oil Sands as well as uranium producer Cameco Corp and mining firm Teck Resources Ltd.
Other firms include plane and train maker Bombardier Inc, Air Canada, Eldorado Gold Corp, SNC-Lavalin Group Inc, Canfor Corp and West Fraser Timber Co Ltd.
The size of the delegation is another sign of how Harper's Conservatives have shifted position to embrace China. The Conservatives came to power in 2006 harboring suspicions about Beijing's human rights record.
Harper skipped the 2008 Beijing Olympics and did not travel to China until late 2009, when Wen admonished him publicly for taking so long to visit. Hu came to Canada the next year, when the two men set a target of boosting trade.
In 2010, Canadian exports to China were worth C$13.2 billion while imports totaled C$44.5 billion. Bilateral Canada-U.S. trade in 2010 was just under C$557 billion. Continued...