Sino-Canadian Relations

Sino-Canadian relations officially date back to 1942 when Canada sent its ambassador to China. Canada was previously represented by the British Ambassador. The Communist victory (1949) in the Chinese Civil War caused a break in relations that lasted until 1970, when Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau became one of the first Western leaders to recognize the People’s Republic of China . Canada is home to the Chinese diaspora, which in turn has affected diplomatic and other dimensions. Hong Kong Island has been an official part of China since 1997, and relations between them have been strained recently due to tensions between the Chinese Communist Party and protesters on that island.

China has been Canada’s largest trading partner in Asia for several years, including in 2017, has been Canada’s largest export market and has been the largest importer of Canadian resources in Asia. Canada, on the other hand, entered into a large trade deficit. For example, in 2016, it imported 44.235 billion Canadian dollars from China, more than the value of its exports to that country that year.

27% of Canadians had a favorable view of China, while 67% had an unfavorable view, according to the Pew Research Center’s Spring 2019 Global Attitudes Survey. A 2017 BBC World Poll showed that only 37% of Canadians viewed China’s global influence favorably, and 51% expressed an unfavorable view. A December 2019 Angus Reid poll found that 70% of Canadians say human rights and the rule of law should be more important than trade opportunities with China; Only 22% of respondents said Canada should develop closer trade relations with China, down from 40% in 2015. The poll also backed up the Pew poll, saying 66% of Canadians have a negative view of China. An October 2017 UBC Research poll indicated that about 70% of Canadians supported a free trade agreement with China; This is despite concerns about China’s growing global power and its recent human rights record.

According to PaulSourcing, trade between the two countries was also likely to have some negative impacts, following increased tensions between the two countries in December 2018 following arrests in both Canada and China. Some Canadians view the contrasting conditions under which Chinese and Canadian prisoners live negatively. Meng, a Chinese national, is allowed to live in a large, six-bedroom house and move around relatively freely in Vancouver, while the Canadian citizens are held in solitary confinement and subjected to methods that some analysts have classified as torture. Canada condemns China’s recent use of the death penalty against Canadian citizens Lynette Ong, an associate professor of political science at the University of Toronto, points to Citizen Meng’s arrest as a catalyst for the recent use of the death penalty against Canadians in China.


Canadian-Chinese relations had existed since 1942 and before that through the British embassy, ​​but they were shaken following the communist victory in the civil war and Canada was faced with two options: the American option of boycott or the British option of maintaining relations, so it chose the British approach and appointed a charge d’affaires. On June 23, 1950, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs instructed the Chargé d’Affaires to begin negotiations to exchange ambassadors. But the Korean War began two days later and Canada participated in it against China, which made the continuation of relations difficult. Canada’s vote at the United Nations was in favor of a resolution that considers China an aggressor, straining relations and prompting China to expel the Canadian Chargé d’Affaires.

In the midst of the Cold War in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the international boycott of Communist China, the Prime Minister of Canada at the time, Pierre Elliott Trudeau , made an official visit to China, which was described as a bold step to prove Canada’s independence from American policy and even to challenge it. The visit opened a new era for China, as Canadian Broadcasting Corporation correspondent Evan Coté in Beijing says: “At that time, China did not have any window on the world, hence the great official and popular welcome that welcomed Trudeau and his wife, Margaret.” He adds: “Trudeau entered history because he was one of the few world leaders who They recognized Communist China on the international scene, an initiative that encouraged several countries to align with it and led to China entering the United Nations in 1971.”

After Pierre Elliott Trudeau came to the helm of the Canadian government, negotiations began again to establish diplomatic relations, which culminated in the opening of the Canadian embassy in China in 1970 and Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s historic visit to China, followed by an important official visit by the Chinese leader Zhao Ziyan, who was the first communist leader. The speech is given in the Canadian House of Commons.

Political relations

The Chinese ambassador to Canada expressed in 2016 that Chinese-Canadian relations are heading towards a great stage as a result of the growth in trade exchange and political cooperation between the two countries, especially in the face of economic protectionism that threatens the global economy. During the year 2015, approximately 1.3 million visitors traveled between the two countries, and the number of Chinese students studying in Canada and vice versa reached 150,000 students. The leaders of the two countries also announced that 2018 is the China-Canada Year of Tourism, an agreement that also includes the addition of 7 centers for granting entry visas to Canada in China.

Diplomatic crises

Meng Wanzhou’s arrest

In early January 2018, the Canadian authorities arrested Meng Wanzhou , the financial director and daughter of the founder of the Chinese technology and communications company Huawei , at Vancouver Airport in Canada, while she was heading from Hong Kong to Mexico, at the request of the American authorities, which led to a crisis in… Sino-Canadian relations. China demanded that Canada immediately release her and threatened to “face serious consequences if it did not do so.” She was arrested.

Canadians arrested in China

The Chinese government announced the arrest of 3 Canadians in China on charges of espionage.

Public opinion

A poll published by the Pew Research Center in September 2019 found that 67% of Canadians have an unfavorable view of China.

Intellectual property strategies

Jim Balsillie, former head of the once-prevailing cell phone company Research in Motion, noted in 2019 that China effectively restricts “the export of domestically produced intellectual property for economic or national security reasons” unlike Canada.


China has consistently become Canada’s largest source of immigration each year in recent decades, and immigration numbers increased even more after adding people from Hong Kong. Chinese Canadians are now considered one of the largest ethnic groups in Canada after Europeans and First Nations. They were set to overtake Koreans as the largest group of international students studying in Canada. The activities of Chinese Canadians are closely monitored by Chinese government agents

Sino-Canadian Relations