Hu meets Harper: What they did and didn't talk about

Prime Minister Stephen Harper had a one-on-one meeting with China’s President Hu Jintao here in Vladivostok, Russia on the margins of the annual APEC summit.

The two met for 30 minutes with a bevy of officials on either side.

According to Canadian officials inside the room, there was no specific mention of the following:

  • China state-owned enterprises CNOOC’s $15-billion bid to buy Calgary’s oil-and-gas producer Nexen. (The deal requires Canadian government approval)
  • Bank of Nova Scotia’s $719 million bid to buy Bank of Guangzhou of China. BNS made this bid eight months ago and is still waiting for China’s government to approve the deal.
  • Manulife — the Canadian financial services giant is ready and waiting and keen to invest in China.
  • The Northern Gateway Pipeline.
  • Trade Reciprocity. It is believed that some in Harper’s cabinet are not keen to approve the CNOOC-Nexen deal because Canadian companies cannot buy Chinese resource companies. Some believe Canada should use the leverage it has now with Nexen to insist on that kind of investment reciprocity.

Now, what did they talk about? Well, here’s the official “readout” from the prime minister’s director of communications, Andrew MacDougall:

This morning, on the margins of the APEC Summit, Prime Minister Harper met with Chinese President Hu Jintao. The meeting allowed both Leaders to reaffirm their commitment to strengthening the Canada-China Strategic Partnership, including through deepening economic cooperation, increasing people-to-people exchanges, and enhancing cooperation on international and regional issues.

The leaders discussed a broad range of issues, including the global economy, bilateral trade and investment, international peace and security, including the situation in Syria, and human rights.

Following the meeting, both leaders witnessed the signing of the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement by the Honourable Edward Fast, Minister of International Trade and
Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, and his Chinese counterpart, Minister Chen Deming. This agreement will provide stronger protection for Canadians investing in China

Today’s bilateral meeting and signing ceremony follows the very productive visit to China that Prime Minister Harper undertook in February.

One of my Twitter followers asks me: Who normally sits on on these meetings in addition to the leaders?

Answer: It can vary but generally speaking, the prime minister is accompanied by several officials. He would, for example, be accompanied by any cabinet ministers travelling with him. In this case, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and International Trade Minister Ed Fast are here so they were in on this meeting and one yesterday with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Among Harper’s political staff he might have his chief of staff (Nigel Wright) or principal secretary (Ray Novak), his Policy Advisor for Foreign Affairs, Trade and International Development (Andre van Vugt) and, “if there is a high degree of public interest”,  his director of communications (MacDougall) in on the meeting. Novak did not travel on this trip but Wright did and he was in on these meetings.

Now, those are all political appointees but Harper would also be accompanied by some bureaucrats, civil servants who work with the Privy Council Office. For the Putin meeting, Canada’s Ambassador to Russia John Sloan was in on the meeting. But Harper also travels often with the Foreign and Defence Policy Advisor to the PM. That title is currently held by Christine Hogan.

Each side also brings their own translator.

The leader that Harper is meeting with would be accompanied by the counterparts to the ministers and officials that Harper has with him. For the meeting with President Hu, there were, the Canadian officials say, an army of advisors that easily outnumbered the Canadian side.


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