Prime Minister Trudeau’s remarks to the China Entrepreneur Club
Thank you Jack for that kind introduction. It’s a tremendous pleasure to be here. It’s a tremendous pleasure to be welcomed by you. Since… the ten months or so since I’ve been prime minister, I’ve already had multiple occasions to sit down with many different leading business figures from around the world, leading political figures from around the world, and very few of them have I had as instant a connection and rapport as with Jack.
His vision for what the world could be, his vision for how consumers and individual citizens can flourish and create opportunities for themselves, for their small businesses, and to…
and to better their own lives is… is tremendous, and I’m very much looking forward to continuing to work with you, but thank you for welcoming me here in my very first event here in Beijing, and drawing together such an extraordinary group of people.
I want to thank you all for your tremendously warm welcome. It’s great for me to be back in China. This is my fourth trip to China in my life. My first as prime minister, obviously.
But in my very first trip to China, I was… I was just a young boy and I was travelling with my father when he was prime minister and that’s why it is so important to me that on this first trip to China as prime minister, I bring my daughter Ella Grace who is discovering this extraordinary country the way I got to discover it as a… as a young… young child.
Because the friendship and the openness towards China that my father taught me, I’m certainly hoping to pass along, not only to my children but to generations of Canadians in the future.
It is a privilege to speak with you all today and I don’t want to give a speech for too long because I know you have some questions for me and I generally prefer conversations over long speeches anyway. Because conversations are how you get to know people, how you build and strengthen relationships. That’s what I’m really interested in.
And that’s why I’m so excited at this opportunity to be here in China to meet with leaders and government so that together we can work to build stable long-term relationships and to meet with business leaders like you so that our business communities can do the same.
You see, there’s no question in my mind that both Canada and China will benefit from this renewed relationship. A stronger relationship between our two countries will open doors, create new opportunities for Canadian businesses, and give Chinese businesses a chance to expand investment in Canada.
As Prime Minister, it’s my job to make sure that our government helps to create the best possible conditions for economic growth, and in Canada we know that we can’t do that on our own. As the world’s second-largest economy, China plays a central role in driving global economic growth.
Any economic strategy that ignores China or that treats that valuable relationship as anything less than critically important is not just short-sighted, it’s irresponsible.
We know that a stronger and deeper relationship with China is essential if we are to achieve our own objectives to create Canadian jobs, to strengthen the middle class, and to grow the Canadian economy. But of course, the benefits of a revitalized relationship go both ways.
It’s important that global business leaders like you know that Canada is a good place to invest, that we’re open for business and that we’re willing to work hard. And more than that, we’re willing to work with you in partnership as you plan for future growth.
And of course, the benefits of a stronger relationship between our two countries go far beyond the simply economic benefits. There are many cultural benefits. We know that as more Canadians come to visit China and more Chinese citizens have the opportunity to visit Canada, our cultural ties will be deepened and strengthened.
And there are environmental benefits as well. Climate change is a global challenge that demands a global solution. And it’s only when we work together that we can learn from each other, build on shared knowledge, and develop economies that are as clean as they are competitive.
There are many other ways in which a more stable relationship will benefit Chinese and Canadian citizens, such as providing more opportunities for regular frank dialogue on issues like good governance, human rights, and the rule of law.
I know this exchange will give you a better ex-chench (sic) of where I’m coming from and what I hope to achieve with this visit. Because, as much as I am here to talk, I’m also here to listen and to learn.
I want to learn about ways that our government can help create the conditions for stronger economic growth. Growth that will help businesses in both countries and help to strengthen and grow the middle class in both of our countries.
I want to do what I can to encourage greater investment in Canada because we need that investment to create good, well-paying middle class jobs across the country. But most importantly, I want to make real progress in rebuilding the relationship between Canada and China because it’s a relationship that stretches back generations.
As Jack mentioned, that includes my father who visited your beautiful country many times, including during his time as Prime Minister of Canada because he knew that a strong relationship with China was important.
But before that, the doctor Norman Bethune, whose selflessness and generosity may have been routed in his Canadian origins but that found its highest expression here in China.
Deepening the relationship between our two countries will take time. And while there is a place for official delegations and bilateral meetings, I think we can also benefit from more candid and informal conversations like the ones I hope to have with you now.
But before I hand the microphone back to Jack, I’ll just point out that, like him, I was a teacher early in my career which means I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.