Beijing's envoy to Ottawa has called for respectful talks on human rights and co-operation between the two countries to smooth the way for the return of mainland fugitives. Addressing students, academics and diplomats at City University of Hong Kong, ambassador Lu Shumin said Beijing was proud of its human rights progress in the past 20 years and not afraid to raise the issue with any country. 'But we certainly believe the right way to do it is in the spirit of equality and mutual respect, to discuss with full reception of each other about these differences.' Mr Lu said China, like Canada, believed in people and strived to improve their rights, but the rest of the world often only noticed differences in ideas about human rights. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has repeatedly criticised China's human rights record and said Canada would not 'sell the belief in democracy, freedom, human rights out to the almighty dollar'. The icy relationship has been a barrier to Beijing's efforts to bring back fugitives to face justice because Ottawa has been concerned they would be executed - a punishment banned in Canada. Beijing has asked Canada to extradite Gao Shan , a former head of the Bank of China in Harbin , who is accused of embezzling 1 billion yuan from the bank and transferring huge sums illegally to an account in Canada. Mr Gao, 42, disappeared in 2005. Beijing is furious with Ottawa over its failure to deport Lai Changxing , described as 'China's most-wanted' for allegedly amassing a fortune through smuggling. Ottawa has no extradition treaty with Beijing, chiefly because of concerns a suspect deported to China could be executed.