The ongoing visit of Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien to China will push ahead the Sino- Canadian ties in the new century.
This was agreed between Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji and Chretien in their formal talks here Sunday afternoon.
Zhu congratulated Chretien for being elected as prime minister for the third consecutive term, saying that China is extremely happy to host Chretien and his delegation at the beginning of the new century, right after the Chinese Lunar New Year.
China appreciates the importance the Canadian government and Chretien himself regard in developing relations with China, which is demonstrated in Chretien's ongoing fourth visit to China as prime minister, said Zhu.
"We believe the current visit will be of special importance to Sino-Canadian ties," he said.
Zhu said the friendly cooperative relations between China and Canada have witnessed smooth development since the two countries forged diplomatic ties in 1970.
In addition, a series of activities launched last year to mark the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Canada enhanced mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples, he added.
Recent years have seen a new stage of development for Sino- Canadian ties, marked by the exchange of visits between the heads of states and the frequent contacts among senior officials, said Zhu.
Zhu noted that economic contacts between the two countries have been strengthened as well.
The two-way trade in 2000 reached almost 7 billion U.S. dollars, up 45 percent year-on-year.
Meanwhile, China and Canada have enhanced cooperation and consultation on various international issues, Zhu said.
He recalled the successful visit by Chinese President Jiang Zemin to Canada in 1997, during which the two sides reached consensus on developing a cross-century partnership of overall cooperation and defined the direction and framework for the development of Sino-Canadian ties in the new century, which has been "highly instructive to the long-term and sound development of Sino-Canadian ties".
During Chretien's present China visit, the two sides will sign agreements or memorandum of understanding in diverse sectors including trade, energy, environment protection, legal system building and education.
"The Chinese side is pleased to see the new progress made in Sino-Canadian ties, both in depth and in breadth", Zhu added.
Chretien said this is the second time he has led a "team Canada " to China, following his China visit in November 1994 with a delegation of 400 members.
The "team Canada" this year includes governors and over 500 entrepreneurs. This fully demonstrates the initiative and interest of all circles of Canadian society in furthering the relations with China, Chretien said.
While sharing Zhu's view on the overall evaluation of Sino- Canadian ties, Chretien said there has been significant progress in bilateral cooperation between China and Canada in recent years. China is now Canada's fourth largest trade partner and is soon to become the third largest.
Chretien affirmed that Canada would continue its pursuit of the One-China principle and would not engage in any official contact with Taiwan, for which Zhu voiced great appreciation.
The Premier stressed that the issue of Taiwan bears on the national sovereignty, territorial integrity and the reunification cause of the nation. He hoped Canada would strictly abide by the one China principle and relevant commitments.
After a briefing on China's domestic economic situation and the strategy of developing the western region, Zhu pointed out the economies of China and Canada, enjoying respective advantages, are highly complementary. This promises bright and broad economic and trade prospects in the future.
The new century, featured by the speedy development of economic globalization, has provided scarce development opportunities for both countries, Zhu said, adding China's current strategy of developing its western area, has aroused world-wide attention and would bring greater business opportunities for overseas investors.
Zhu hoped that Canada would seize the present favorable opportunity to actively explore new ways and fields of economic and trade cooperation, and strive for further advancing the bilateral economic and trade ties in the new century.
Zhu also expounded on China's stance on the human rights issue, pointing out China respects the universal principle of human rights recognized by the world community and meanwhile believes that the promotion and safeguarding of human rights should be in accordance with the specific situation of each country.
China is willing to continue dialogue with Canada in the human rights field, he said.
After the talks, the two prime ministers oversaw the signing of three documents between the two countries, including a memorandum of understanding between China's State Development Planning Commission and the Canadian Energy Ministry on cooperation in the energy field, a letter of intent on cooperative projects on environment and climate change, legal reform, development of the western region and capacity building of WTO members, and a program on exchange of scholars.
The two prime ministers also met with representatives of university presidents from both countries after the talks.
Prior to the talks, Zhu presided over a grand welcoming ceremony in honor of Chretien, who arrived in Beijing Saturday afternoon for a 9-day official visit accompanied by an entourage of more than 600 people, the largest mission ever sent by Canada to a foreign country in its diplomatic history.
Zhu also hosted a banquet in honor of Chretien and his delegation at the Great Hall of the People in the evening.