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The China Challenge

Huhua Cao
Vivienne Poy


Allan Rock

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1It has been more than forty years since diplomatic relations between Canada and the People’s Republic of China were established by Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Throughout that time, China has undergone dramatic economic changes, and the country is now considered a key player on the global stage. China’s emergence as an economic powerhouse, coupled with its successful efforts to expand its sphere of influence, have had a profound effect both on the development of international policy and on the global community as a whole. Meanwhile, Canada has worked steadily to strengthen cultural and economic exchanges with China, balancing strong trade against concerns such as human rights, the rule of law, climate change and the environment. While ebbs and flows in their bilateral relations have occurred, Canada and China continue to engage in collaborative efforts in political, commercial, cultural and academic arenas. Canada must not only persist in raising its profile as a contributing partner in this strategically important region, but also continue critically to examine its foreign policy toward China.

2The China Challenge: Sino-Canadian Relations in the 21st Century is therefore a timely and relevant analysis of the history and future of the relationship between Canada and China. It examines topics such as Ottawa’s foreign policy priorities, China’s increasingly important position as an international policy-maker, China’s growing economic clout and its potential implications for Canada’s future prosperity, and the human and demographic aspects of bilateral relations. It offers readers perspectives from both scholars and Canadian government representatives, current and former, on why, from both a domestic and an international standpoint, China is more important to Canada than ever.

3This book is the first in a series, China in the 21st Century, to be published by the University of Ottawa Press. The series will greatly contribute to the University of Ottawa’s efforts to increase awareness of its leadership on international issues, a priority identified in Vision2020, the university’s strategic plan for the future. It will also further advance the university’s efforts to encourage collaboration between universities and governments. Given the complex global issues facing the Canadian government today, it is critical that senior officials and elected leaders have access to thoughtful and fully developed knowledge and ideas from sources beyond their own departments. Universities, with their capacity for critical thought and independent research, can play an important part in the development of this information, and in nourishing an open and rigorous policy process as an important component in the future progress of bilateral relations with China.

4With its rich cultural heritage, its tremendous economic influence, and the world’s largest population, China will see its economic potential and its status among nations continue to flourish in coming decades. As it currently stands, China has made significant moves in trade relations with the United States, Australia, South America and Africa, is a leading force in the G20, has permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council, and is the second largest economy in the world after the United States. If Canada wishes to maintain a strong international presence, it must find ways to bridge the ideological differences that constitute foreign policy challenges in its relationship with China in order to reinforce its relevance and its capacity to develop new Canadian markets in Asia.

5The China Challenge: Sino-Canadian Relations in the 21st Century and the subsequent books in the series China in the 21st Century will serve as valuable resources, providing policy-makers with expert knowledge, insight and opinions so that they may make the best decisions on how to enhance our nation’s dialogue with China on vital issues of strategic interest for Canada.


Born and raised in Ottawa, Allan Rock is a three-time graduate of the University of Ottawa. He attended the University of Ottawa high school before completing a Baccalaureate in Arts in 1968 and a law degree in 1971. For 20 years, Allan Rock conducted a varied practice in civil, commercial and administrative litigation. In 1993, he was elected as the Member of Parliament for Etobicoke-Centre and named Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. He introduced significant improvements to the Criminal Code, the Canadian Human Rights Act and other federal legislation. In 1997 he became Minister of Health where he spearheaded the creation of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and more than doubled annual health research funding on a national scale.
Subsequently, as Minister of Industry and Minister of Infrastructure, he introduced Canada’s innovation strategy, was responsible for Canada’s three granting councils and introduced legislation to create the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation to promote applied research in the social sciences and the humanities.
Allan Rock was appointed Ambassador of Canada to the United Nations in December 2003. As the voice of Canadians at the United Nations, Allan Rock was an outspoken advocate of human rights, human security and reforming the UN. At the 2005 World Summit at the UN, he led the successful Canadian effort to secure the adoption by world leaders of the doctrine Responsibility to protect populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity

© Les Presses de l’Université d’Ottawa | University of Ottawa Press, 2011

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