Canada To Press Chinese President Over Pollution
Ottawa (AFP) Sep 08, 2005
China's President Hu Jintao on Thursday started his first visit to North America since becoming his country's supreme leader and which is likely to see him pressed over trade and China's huge pollution output.
Canada is the first stop of a tour in which a landmark US stop cancelled because of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. But he will still meet President George W. Bush at the UN General Assembly this month.
The Chinese leader -- who was given a ceremonial welcome at Ottawa airport -- faces his first test when he meets Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin and his cabinet to discuss climate change, energy, science and technology, investment, trade, tourism and human rights.
Martin will ask Hu to reduce China's greenhouse gas emissions, much of which pollutes Canadian lakes and rivers.
China's refusal to cut emissions would set a poor example for developing nations when Kyoto Protocol signatories meet in Montreal in December, Canadian officials said.
However, Canadian Environment Minister Stephane Dion conceded that China is unlikely to agree to a national target for cutting emissions for years, and will depend on high-polluting coal for the foreseeable future.
Martin and Hu will sign an air travel agreement that will increase flights between China and Canada threefold, Canadian officials said. They hope this will bring more Chinese tourists to Canada and boost trade and investment.
There are nearly one million Chinese-Canadians living mostly in Toronto and Vancouver -- two cities Hu will visit -- who have helped build ties between the two countries.
China is Canada's second-biggest trading partner behind the United States. In 2004, Canadian exports to China grew by 40 percent while the reverse movement of goods increased 30 percent, often displacing other Asian imports.
Hu arrived to a modest fanfare amid light rain to begin his first tour of North America since becoming China's supreme leader.
Hu was greeted at the airport by a party led by Canadian Deputy House of Commons Leader Mauril Belanger, officials said. Activists tried to protest to oppose China's human rights record.
This is Hu's first visit to Canada and only the third by a Chinese president since diplomatic relations began in 1970.
In Ottawa, Hu will attend a tree-planting ceremony at Government House and dine with Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson, the first Chinese-Canadian to be appointed to the post. She was born in Hong Kong and went to Canada with her family in 1942 to escape World War II.
Hu was to have met US President George W. Bush at the White House this week, but with the US leader busy overseeing the response to Hurricane Katrina, Hu will instead meet Bush briefly on the sidelines of the UN summit in New York next week.
Hu also cancelled tours of the Boeing aircraft plant and Microsoft's Seattle headquarters September 6-8, as well as plans to give a speech at Yale University.
From Canada, Hu will go on to Mexico and then attend the UN General Assembly 60th anniversary summit in New York on September 14-16 as planned, the Chinese official said.
While in Canada, Hu will meet with business and Chinese-Canadian community leaders, as well as the heads of Canada's three biggest provinces -- Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.
On September 17, Hu will visit fuel cell maker Ballard Power Systems' Vancouver headquarters before returning home.
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