There is no better time for Canadian enterprises to participate in the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) than now, according to Lu Shaye, China's ambassador to Canada.
Lu made the comment at a Belt and Road forum at the Canadian National Exhibition on Aug 30.
According to Lu, Canada is in an intense trade dispute with its southern ally the US. It is reasonable for Canada to promote cooperation with its largest trading partner.
However, given that the global economic center is gradually shifting toward the Asia-Pacific region, Canada also can turn to those emerging markets and diversify its trade.
"Although located in North America, where it is quite far away from China, Canada is welcome to take part in the initiative," said Lu, adding that Canada should not let the opportunity slip away.
Lu used as an example the fact that Belarus and China recently constructed an industrial park in Minsk as part of the Belt and Road construction, adding that cooperation in trade and investment between China and the countries along the Belt and Road has continued to expand over the past five years.
"In the Belt and Road cooperation, we have never pursued a 'China first' policy," said Lu. "The BRI was proposed by China, but its opportunities and achievements can be shared by the whole world. It is aimed at achieving true common prosperity instead of the mere satisfaction of self-interests."
Still, since its launch, the BRI has been accompanied by misconceptions.
"Some people say that China utilizes the BRI to seek geostrategic interests, and some even call it China's Marshall Plan. I would like to stress that the BRI is not a tool for China to contend for regional or international ascendancy; instead, it is a public good that can be used by all countries," Lu explained.
Lu suggested that China and Canada could jointly explore third-party markets, as China's productivity and Canada's technologies and services could combine to serve the demands of developing countries.
Jean Charest, a partner at McCarthy Tétrault and former Quebec premier, said China is one of the biggest issues Canada has to address.
"There is, right now, a unique historical opportunity between China and Canada to do the trade agreement, that's what I see today, and we can get it right," Charest said.