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Image of Images of Michael Kovrig, Meng Wanzhou and Michael Spavor

Canada and China: challenges and opportunities

22 January 2020 17.30 - 19.00
Add to Calendar22/01/2020 17:3022/01/2020 19:00Europe/LondonCanada and China: challenges and opportunities Hall, West Court, Jesus College, Jesus Lane CB5 8BLfalseDD/MM/YYYY15Jesus Collegeevent_9453confirmed
Frankopan Hall, West Court, Jesus College, Jesus Lane CB5 8BL

The Honourable John McCallum, P.C., former Canadian Ambassador to the People's Republic of China, will deliver a lecture on the recent and current political relationship between Canada and China and the implications for other countries such as the UK. The lecture will be followed by a question and answer session.

In early 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked John McCallum to leave the federal cabinet and become Canada's ambassador to China. This was a signal that Canada wanted to do more with China. For almost two years, events went quite smoothly, with a moderate increase in trade and a surge of ministers and provincial premiers visiting China, although efforts to open negotiations on a free trade agreement suffered a setback. Canada also adhered to its values in areas including Uyghurs, human rights lawyers and Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo.

Then, in early December 2018, everything came crashing down when Canada, at the request of the United States, detained Meng Wanzhou, CFO of Huawei and daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei. The Chinese then detained two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. A year later, all three individuals remain detained, albeit with very different levels of physical comfort, and Canada-China relations are in the doldrums.

The purpose of this talk is to describe the situation, touching as well on the Huawei 5G issue, and to consider the implications for countries such as the UK that wish to expand their ties with China.

 John McCallum is Senior Strategic Advisor to McMillan LLP.  In January and February 2020 he will be a Distinguished Academic Visitor to Queens' College, Cambridge.

The Hon.  John McCallum, P.C., completed his postgraduate education at Queens’ College, Cambridge (MA, 1971), Universite de Paris I, (Diplome d'Etudes Superieures, 1974) and McGill University (PhD, 1977). Between 1976 and 1994 he was a professor of economics at McGill University, Universite du Quebec a Montreal, Simon Fraser University, and University of Manitoba, as well as Dean of the Faculty of Arts, McGill University. His most widely known publication is “National Borders Matter:  Canada-US Regional Trade Patterns,” American Economic Review, June 1995  (943 citations).

John McCallum subsequently pursued a career in banking as Senior Vice President and Chief Economist for the Royal Bank of Canada before moving into politics in 2000 as Member of Parliament for Markham (subsequently Markham-Unionville, Markham-Thornhill).  During his political tenure he served in six ministerial portfolios, including National Defence and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.  The highlights of these years were:

  • to lead the initiative to welcome 40,000+ Syrian refugees to Canada (2015-16)
  • to lead the initiative to find $11 billion in budgetary savings over five years (2005)
  • to servce as Defence Minister when Canada opted to stay out of Iraq war (2003)
  • his nomination of Nelson Mandela as an honorary citizen (2001)

John McCallum served as Canadian Ambassador to the People's Republic of China from 2017 - 2019.

This is one of the lectures in the on-going China Centre Seminar series, hosted by the China Centre, Jesus College.  The lectures, given by eminent speakers, will cover a broad range of topics and disciplines.


Attendance is free and booking is not required.


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