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PM Trudeau begins first day of his visit to China

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Mike Blanchfiled, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, December 3, 2017 8:08AM EST
Last Updated Sunday, December 3, 2017 11:00PM EST

BEIJING – Global warming has been a boon to Canada’s wine industry, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a panel discussion in Beijing on Monday.

Trudeau was at the headquarters of the country’s most popular social media company, Sina Weibo on the first day of his four day trip to China as part of an attempt to promote Canada as a tourist destination and to launch the 2018 year of tourism between the two countries.

He took part in a moderated discussion with four Chinese millennials, who were describing their travels in Canada to a gathering of more than 200 of their cellphone toting contemporaries at a Monday morning visit to the headquarters of Sino Corporation, which owns Weibo.

Trudeau plugged Canada diversity, including its world class cities and natural elements. The conversation turned to food and drink, when one of the young participants talked up Canadian beer.

“But we’ve also gone beyond just icewines,” Trudeau said in a panel discussion at the home of the Chinese microblogging platform that has become more popular than Twitter.

“One of the challenges of global warming is it’s getting warmer further north and therefore Canadian wines are doing phenomenally well.”

Trudeau didn’t elaborate. The remark came in a upbeat discussion that extolled the benefits of young people venturing abroad to see the world. The government wants to double the number of the Chinese travellers to Canada in the coming years.

Trudeau is being accompanied by four cabinet ministers, including Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, who is trying to find new areas of co-operation between Canadian and Chinese companies in clean energy technology.

China wants to co-operate with Canada on tackling climate change because it faces serious air quality problems in major cities.

Beijing’s trademark smog was nowhere to be seen as Trudeau started his first full day in China. The prime minister’s entourage was greeted with clear sunny skies, and crisp cold weather just above freezing.

Trudeau is to meet with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang later in the day at Beijing’s opulent Great Hall of the People, and trade is sure to be discussed.

Canada and China have yet to announce the start of formal free trade talks, but have engaged in a long round of exploratory discussions that has taxed China’s patience.

The government recently released the results of consultations on a possible trade deal with more than 600 businesses, academics and civil society groups.

Some surveyed said a pact with Canada could kill Canadian jobs and reduce the ability to compete against China’s lax labour standards, lower environmental requirements and state subsidies.

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PM Trudeau begins first day of his visit to China

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