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Justin Trudeau touts Niagara Falls and Canada’s charms in appeal to Chinese tourists

Canadian prime minister visits headquarters of tech giant Sina

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 December, 2017, 5:14pm
UPDATED : Monday, 04 December, 2017, 7:30pm

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau began his official visit to China on Monday at the Beijing headquarters of one of the country’s biggest social media firms – but it was Canada’s natural beauty he wanted to talk about.

In an appeal to the growing legions of middle-class Chinese who are travelling overseas, Trudeau said tourists would be mesmerised by the scenery in Canada, including Niagara Falls.

“I am 45 years old and I’ve lived in Canada my entire life. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve seen more of it than most of the people have, but there are so many places across our country that I want to visit and so many people I still want to meet,” Trudeau told more than 200 people gathered at the office of tech giant Sina.

“As breathtaking as our geography can be – you can’t visit the Niagara Falls and not be impressed by the sights and the sounds – it’s our people who make Canada great and worth visiting.”

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He also emphasised the enthusiastic and generous nature of Canadians.

“Canada, like China, can be a place that’s difficult to describe. But if there’s one word sums up Canada, it’s probably diversity,” Trudeau said, referring to the country’s scenery as well as its people.

Trudeau is visiting China for the second time since he took office in 2015, ahead of next year’s Canada-China Year of Tourism – an initiative to boost the relationship between the two countries – which Canada is to host.

Canada’s second youngest prime minister has more than 130,000 followers on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, making him one of the most popular foreign leaders on Chinese social media. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has about 180,000 followers on the microblogging platform.

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Trudeau’s visit drew plenty of comments online on Monday.

“He looks so handsome and stylish,” one microblogger wrote, “but I am also looking forward to seeing my leaders here.”

“What socks are you wearing today?” asked another, referring to his sometimes colourful choice of socks pictured during public occasions.

More than 610,000 Chinese tourists visited Canada last year, and they spent an estimated C$1.25 billion (US$984.82 million), according to Canadian government figures. Those numbers are expected to grow significantly over the next four years.

Trudeau arrived in Beijing on Sunday night and was greeted by a ceremonial military guard at the airport.

He will meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang later on Monday for bilateral talks and a private dinner, the Toronto Star reported.

Trudeau will also meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday before he heads to Guangzhou, capital of economic powerhouse Guangdong, on Wednesday.

His agenda is expected to include the formal start of negotiations for a free-trade agreement with China.

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