Hampson: What's the ultimate objective of Harper's softer stance on China?
Baird's visit to China, the first official visit of a cabinet minister overseas in Harper's new majority government, symbolizes that China is now front and square in our national interest. The Prime Minister has said that "properity" is his number one priority and that is driving the new strategic partnership with the world's second biggest and fastest growing economy. China is now our third most important trading partner after the US and Europe. As the US economy goes south, Harper understands that Canada must diversify its trade and investment linkages to secure Canada's economic future. The Asia Pacific will loom large in this government's attentions.