Celebration of Strong People-to-People Ties Between Canada and China


I am delighted to have this opportunity to say a few words about the blossoming of the Canada-China relationship, and to tell China Today readers about the joint Canada-China commitment to hold a series of cultural activities in our respective countries over 2013-2014.

Let me begin by telling you that this is my third posting to Beijing. I was first here in the mid-80s and then again in the late 90s. As such, I’ve witnessed extraordinary changes in China, as well as a growing and deepening Canada-China relationship. These are certainly exciting times for our two countries, and I am privileged to be serving as Canada’s Ambassador here as we take the bilateral relationship to a new level.

Indeed, in recent years, our ties with China have grown exponentially and in every respect, from trade and investment, to the number of students studying in one another’s countries, to the frequency of high-level visits, to the number of people-to-people exchanges. And I am pleased to see that, alongside China’s impressive economic rise, there are so many amazing opportunities for international artists and performers to show their works here. Clearly, cultural exchanges between China and Canada are on the ascent, and becoming a key and growing part of our relationship.

In February 2012, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper made an official visit to China and one of the key outcomes was a commitment to greater cultural exchanges over 2013 and 2014.

So I am very pleased to report that 2013 was a dynamic year with numerous cultural exchanges and activities. Among the many highlights, we had Céline Dion’s CCTV Spring Festival appearance; performances by Cirque du Soleil and Justin Bieber; reading tours and publishing projects by leading Canadian authors; the Fourth Banff Mountain Film Festival China Tour; strong participation by Canadian filmmakers and eight Canadian films screened at the Third Beijing International Film Festival; major photography exhibitions on the Canadian Arctic and Canadian missionaries in China; leading architects – including Frank Ghery and Moishe Safdie – on short lists for designing some of China’s bold new buildings; and an ambitious and first-ever tour here by our National Arts Centre Orchestra.

And, of course, these exchanges are going both ways, which means that Canadians from coast to coast are thoroughly enjoying a lively and diverse Chinese program of celebrated musical performances, film, dance and fine arts. For example, the National Ballet of China made its first Canadian tour in 2013 and performed Swan Lake and Raise the Red Lantern in Vancouver and Montreal. And as part of a long-term relationship between Canada’s National Arts Centre (NAC) and China’s National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), the NAC will host a concert by the NCPA Orchestra in the fall of 2014.

No doubt, our performers, artists and citizens – in both countries – are drawing inspiration from these exchanges, and benefiting from the deepened diversity that such opportunities provide. I can say with certainty that Canada and Canadians are truly honored to be taking such an active part in China’s rich artistic and cultural life.

1   2