The Next 50 Years: Key Questions in Canada-China Relations


Published: Summer 2021   |   By: Philip Calvert and John Gruetzner   |   Volume 69, No. 23



To round out this CIC series on Canada-China relations, and set the stage for future work, this article presents 10 core questions as a basis for a coherent, constructive and effective China policy. The US Senate’s most recent decision to invest $250 billion to boost the country’s ability to compete with Chinese technology is but one indication of shifts in global approaches to Xi Jinping’s China. China today, and Xi’s vision for its future, have significant implications for Canada’s domestic and global interests. Canada therefore needs a major recalibration of its approach to China—one that is strategic, informed, and non-partisan. It should be guided by Canada’s short-term and long-term interests and values, based on a clear understanding of China’s current domestic political, economic and social drivers, and supported by a coherent, well-resourced, and detailed action plan. Addressing these questions should help Canada formulate a China policy that tackles current challenges and equips us to anticipate and address new ones that will inevitably emerge in the decades ahead.

About the Authors

Philip Calvert is a Senior Fellow with the China Institute of the University of Alberta and a Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Asia Pacific Initiatives at the University of Victoria. He served in Beijing as a Trade Commissioner (1984-87), Economic Counsellor (1994-1997) and Minister & Deputy Head of Mission (2004-2008). In Global Affairs Canada he served as Director General for North Asia, Deputy Chief Negotiator for Canada during China’s accession to the WTO and as Director of the Technical Barriers to Trade Division. Most recently he spent 2012-2016 as Canada’s ambassador to Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. He has a Ph.D. in Chinese History from the University of Washington.

John Gruetzner founded Intercedent, a business advisory firm in Beijing, Hong Kong, and Singapore. After returning to Canada this year after 38 years in China, he now serves as the Senior Vice President for Global Markets for Syngrafii. He sits also on several public and private sector boards. He lectures in business schools and writes on business issues in China. He is one of the 24 founders of the China Policy Centre. He holds a BA from the University of Toronto and studied Chinese language at the University of Nankai in 1982.