Canadian Prime Minister to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao in Vietnam

Friday, November 17, 2006

Stephen Harper is set to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Harper arrived in Hanoi at about 7:30 a.m. ET on yesterday.

On Wednesday, the Chinese government proposed the meeting during the APEC conference between the two leaders, the Chinese government withdrew from the meeting right after Harper agreed to it. They said they would signal at the eleventh hour that its president would meet with Mr. Harper. They added that China rejects any criticism of its human-rights situation.

Harper vowed to speak his mind on human rights issues regardless of Chinese sensibilities. "We'll talk in a frank manner and we won't accept conditions on the subjects of discussion," Harper said.

"I think Canadians want us to promote our trade relations worldwide. We do that. But I don't think Canadians want us to sell out important Canadian values of belief in democracy, freedom and human rights — they don't want us to sell that out to the almighty dollar," said Harper.

"This is not the only incident of the Chinese demanding or asking for a meeting and then declining it once it is accepted and it is a pattern that kind of perplexes us," he said.

China's human rights has been raised by former Prime Minister Paul Martin when Hu visited Ottawa last year. Martin said he had a full discussion of human rights with the Chinese president and had raised the cases of 10 Falun Gong members.

"The Chinese government attaches great importance to China-Canada relations," said Jiang Yu, a Beijing foreign affairs spokeswoman. "During the APEC meeting, President Hu Jintao and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will meet."

Ottawa said it would like to discuss a number of issues, including the case of, Huseyincan Celil, a Chinese-Canadian who is being held in a China prison for allegedly having links to Muslim separatist extremist groups in his native Xinjiang province.