China And Canada Plan Increased Cultural Exchanges, Tourism

Canadian Prime Minister Harper And Chinese Premier Wen Agree On Cultural Co-operation Through Joint Programs & Exchanges In Performing And Visual Arts

Photo: AFP

Photo: AFP

Over the past few years, we’ve seen China stepping up its efforts at cultural diplomacy and projection of soft power, through everything from opening Confucius Institutes around the world to more recent activities like panda diplomacy, art diplomacy, and museum diplomacy. This week, on Canadian PM Stephen Harper’s first trip to China, Harper and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced that their countries will increase cultural co-operation through performing and visual arts exchanges. In addition to the agreement to work more closely to boost cultural exchanges, one of the more important issues agreed upon on Harper’s trip is that China has — after years of intense negotiations — agree to give Canada approved destination status. This could be a windfall for Canadian travel operators, as observers have projected that this designation could inject upwards of $100 million into the Canadian economy every year.

From the Globe and Mail:

According to Canadian government data, Chinese tourists stay longer (on average, 28 nights) and spend more (on average, better than $1,600 a visit) than those from any other country. With 1.3 million Chinese-Canadian friends and relatives to visit, the new designation promises to inject $100-million a year into Canada’s tourism industry, with considerable growth potential.

In addition to discussing the loosening of travel restrictions and signing an MOU on climate change issues, Harper and Wen discussed the deepening of cultural ties between their two countries. These cultural programs, along with the five Confucius Institutes already operational in Canada, could boost cultural diplomacy between Canada and China by way of language programs, arts initiatives, and museum loans of contemporary Chinese and Canadian art and antiquities. From SooNews:

The MOU on Cultural Cooperation will promote joint programs and exchanges in the performing and visual arts, festivals and exhibitions and in the sharing of best practices in the field of cultural heritage. The MOU outlines a two-year program of cultural cooperation with China that will create economic opportunities for the Canadian cultural sector and showcase Canadian culture in China.

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