Woo: What's the ultimate objective of Harper's softer stance on China?

By: /
July 27, 2011

The idea of an "ultimate" objective is alien to most foreign policy discussions, and particularly so in the case of China, which is changing so fast.

At this stage, the most that can be said about Harper's "softer" stance on China is that it strikes a more even balance between trade and human rights, and signals the heightened importance of China in Canadian foreign policy. Mr Baird has admirably conveyed these two messages in his recent visit to Beijing.

What is less clear is how Ottawa will develop the relationship. Is it principally about selling more to China? Balance notwithstanding, will there be a new approach to human rights? What about regional and global issues? Are there areas where Canada can have a "special relationship" with China? These are some of the important proximate questions.