Justin Trudeau

The Chinese public give their verdict on Justin Trudeau

Beijingers weigh in on Canada’s prime minister ahead of his visit

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 December, 2017, 8:19pm
UPDATED : Monday, 04 December, 2017, 8:59pm

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is visiting China.

During the visit, his second to China since taking power, Trudeau will meet Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing.

He will also travel to Guangdong to meet Li Xi, a protégé of the president who was recently appointed party chief of the province, the industrial powerhouse of China.

Trudeau, the second-youngest Canadian prime minister, has attracted attention around the world since his Liberal Party took power in 2015.

Some admirers have expressed support for his decision to personally welcome Syrian refugees at Toronto’s airport.

Others – struck perhaps by his youthful good looks – have elevated him to celebrity status and thousands of young fans in the Philippines lined the streets of Manila with home-made banners waiting to catch a glimpse of him when he visited last month for a summit.

Here’s what young Chinese people think about the 45-year-old, his country, and ties between the two nations.

A 34-year-old investment bank employee, who only gave his family name Jia, said young world leaders like Trudeau as well as 39-year-old French President Emmanuel Macron could inject more energy into world politics and appeal to younger people.

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“[Trudeau] has strong charisma. I think in China more and more young people will pay more attention to him.”

But to many Chinese people who are too young to remember his father Pierre Trudeau’s spell as Canadian prime minister his is still an unfamiliar name, especially after the ideologically driven foreign policy of his Conservative predecessor Stephen Harper.

Beanty Li, who works in the chemical industry in Beijing, said Trudeau should be more proactive in promoting Canada to the Chinese people.

“People know more about the United States because the Americans are good at self-promotion so we know about Stanford and Harvard universities,” Li said.

“Canada has many world-class universities … but, for example, few people in China know about McGill University, but it has been dubbed a little Harvard in the north.”

Trudeau is an alumnus of McGill University, which is based in Montreal in Quebec.

Zhou Jingsong, a 25-year-old financial researcher, said he saw Canada as a country with plentiful forests, a beautiful environment and pleasant weather.

“Another impression is that the country is wealthy, and because of its mature welfare system, the wealth gap is narrow so people are very happy there.”

To Zhou, and other Chinese young people, Canada is often compared with the US, although most of them said the two nations remained distinctive in many different ways.

“The two nations were built on immigration and different cultures but after the economic development in the past 100 to 200 years, the US is now the centre of the world. This means the Americans are more open and aggressive while Canadians are living a slower-paced life and in other ways they are freer and more easy-going.”

Li Ting, a 25-year-old office worker, said Canada’s “easy-going” and “less aggressive” nature could explain why Canada had played a different role on the world stage to its neighbour.

“National policies are in line with the personality of its people,” Li said. “I think Canadians are more chilled than the American people, so probably that’s why they are cooler and more restrained in expressing their policies and leadership strategy.”

The two countries’ leaders are often compared with each other, too.

For example, while US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement, Trudeau, in the first weeks after coming to power, told to the world that “Canada is back” in the global campaign against climate change.

“The US president is much older, and the Canadian [prime minister] is younger, which gives an impression of being full of vigour and vitality,” said Wang Yu, a 30-year-old financial consultant.