A major study looking at Canadian attitudes about Asia ignored one of its biggest partners in Asia and the home of the more Canadians than the rest of Asia combined – Hong Kong.
The Asia Pacific Foundation is Canada’s leading think tank looking at Canadian-Asian relations.
And it seems to have forgotten Hong Kong.
As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prepares to make his first visit to Hong Kong as Prime Minister, arriving September 6, the Hong Kong Canada relationship will be front and centre.
The Foundation has had Hong Kong on its radar in the past and is one of the authors of the occasional report measuring just how many Canadians there are in Hong Kong. But its recent report, 2016 National Opinion Poll: Canadian Views on Asia, asked after a variety of Asian companies but left out Hong Kong, one of Canada’s most important partners in the region.
Given Hong Kong is home to more Canadians than the rest of Asia combined (over 300,000, by the Asia Pacific Foundation’s last measure), home to the biggest Canadian business organisation outside of Canada (The Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong), a huge source of immigrants to Canada and a major trading partner, the omission seems glaring.
Other countries asked after included Australia, Japan, the USA, South Korea, India, Vietnam, The Philippines, Indonesia and China. Much of the report looked at China, where Canadians had the least favourable feelings out of all countries asked after.
In terms of trading partners, China ranks #2 and Japan #5. Hong Kong ranks #8, right behind #7 South Korea. Both are well ahead of India (#14).
The mainland owned SCMP and Canadian newspaper Globe & Mail reported on the results regarding China, with no mention of Hong Kong’s omission. Taiwan, ranking #16 on the trade list and another source of immigrants, is also missing, also unremarked upon. India, Vietnam, Australia and The Philippines don’t make the top 20 among Canada’s global trade partners, but did make the study.
The Asia Pacific Foundation was contacted last week and had not responded as of publication of this article. Evan amid growing concerns about the Chinese government agencies influencing media and academic institutions in Canada, it has chosen to remain silent.
Government organisations, Canadian and Hong Kong, demurred commenting on the study of an outside party. However, the importance of Canada to Hong Kong is on their minds. In response to our question, the CEDB provided this information on the bilateral relationship:
“Notwithstanding this, Hong Kong and Canada are each other’s important trade and investment partners. Hong Kong is an important market for Canadian goods. Hong Kong is Canada’s 6th largest export market, Canada’s 2nd largest export market in the world for beef and beef products, and the 5th largest market for fish and seafood.
In terms of investment, Canada ranked 16th among our major sources of inward direct investment as at end 2014. Hong Kong is an important source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Canada. As of 2014, Hong Kong was the second largest destination in Asia after China for Canadian FDI, larger than both Japan and India. Hong Kong and Canada also enjoys productive cooperation in the context of multilateral organizations to which they are both members, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and the World Trade Organization. In view of our close bilateral ties, we have signed an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) earlier in February 2016. We believe that the IPPA will stimulate bilateral investment flows and will bring our bilateral economic relation to a new height.”
He has run The Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, founded The Lion Rock Institute and has over 25 years engagement in media, politics, policy and community engagement.