Falungong protests and the extended stay of China's most wanted fugitive Lai Changxing in Canada are "the issues" in shaping the China-Canada relationship, said international trade minister David Emerson in the Asia Pacific summit in Vancouver.
This is the first time a Canadian minister admits that Falungong and Lai Changxing may hinder relationship between the two countries.
"I'm not saying these things (Falungong and Lai) are hard facts relating to the Canada-China relation, but definitely are part of the constellation of relationship issues that China needs to understand... that in a Canadian legal and constitutional context, there are things we can do and things we can't do," Emerson said.
However, he denied there was tension between China and Canada. He said, for example, he and foreign minister Peter Mackay will visit China next January. He said the new Tory gov needed time to understand issues at stake between China and Canada and that's why they weren't able to pay a visit to China sooner.
Emerson said, "My goal is to start to push for the trade and commercial files." Talks around ADS (approved destination status) has been stalled for some time.
"People are saying Canada needs to understand China, but we need to look at the other side too."
Emerson also said that prime minister Stephen Harper has requested to meet with Chinese president Hu Jintao one-on-one during the APEC summit in Vietnam next month, though he emphasized he could not speak on behalf of the prime minister.
"But scheduling has been difficult, especially from the Chinese side."
"All of this spinning that is going on that the government is not prepared to deal with China is not true," Emerson stressed.
Among the agreements he hinted was tied up by the "constellation" was one that would have Beijing grant approved destination status to Canada and make it easier for Chinese tourists to visit.
Emerson said issues such human rights would be prominent in the policy still being developed by the Conservatives, but he suggested they were still grappling with the "nitty gritty as to tactics."
"How do you pursue your human rights objectives, your democracy objectives, environmental objectives and so on, in a practical way that doesn't limit and hurt Canada's economic prospects?"
Towards the end of the scrum with reporters, Emerson was asked: "Are you going to run in the next election?"
Emerson's answer was: "Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!"
Then he left.
(With files from Reuters.)