Four agreements signed to strengthen ties between UAlberta and China

Agreements provide for joint programs, food research partnerships, and dialogue on trade and investment.


(Edmonton) As Prime Minister Stephen Harper prepares for the APEC Summit and other meetings starting this week in China to improve relations between Canada and China, the University of Alberta signed a major agreement Wednesday between its China Institute and the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs.

“We are the one and only research centre in Canada focusing exclusively on the study of China and China-Canada relations,” says the China Institute’s associate director, Jia Wang, adding that the institute is also the only centre the federal government approached to lend expertise on dialogue between the two countries.

“We were approached by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development because there are issues that affect Canada-China relations that need real negotiations and experts to find solutions,” says Wang. “This platform will facilitate real and meaningful dialogue between the two countries.”

The memorandum of understanding is meant to help senior scholars and policy experts exchange ideas and collaborate on a wide of range of issues, especially trade and investment, she said. It was signed at Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs in Beijing and witnessed by the Canadian ambassador to China, Guy Saint-Jacques. Gordon Houlden, director of the China Institute, and Shumin Lu, former Chinese ambassador to Canada and former vice-minister of foreign affairs, were the signatories.

“It is very flattering that they would come to us to be the Canadian facilitator of this kind of dialogue,” says Wang. “China is probably the most important international partner for the U of A right now.”

There are some 4,000 students from China at the U of A, she says—the largest number at any university in the country by far—and there are more than 90 agreements with Chinese institutions, research centres, government agencies and ministries.

The U of A also signed three other agreements in China this week, two of which were witnessed by Prime Minister Harper.

  • The University of Alberta/Peking University Memorandum of Understanding for a Summer Program on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in China allows for the continuation of a pilot summer program established by the U of A and Peking University in summer 2014. The program allows top students from both universities to broaden their knowledge of China's socio-economic development and build innovation and entrepreneurial skills necessary to work successfully in China. The program, developed jointly and offered in Mandarin at Peking University, includes visits to Chinese companies and state key labs, as well as meetings with successful investors and industrial leaders.
  • The University of Alberta/Xi'an Jiao Tong University (XJTU) Collaborative Agreement establishes the framework for both universities to collaborate in offering the U of A’s Natural Resources, Energy, and Environment MBA program in China. XJTU would assist in providing facilities, staff and overall support to allow the program to be offered, while the U of A would manage admissions, curriculum and selection of faculty members from both institutions to teach the program. The program will be administered by the Alberta School of Business.
  • The University of Alberta/Northwest A&F University MoU for Agriculture and Food Innovation Joint Research Centre expresses the intent of both institutions to establish a joint research centre for agriculture and food innovation. It is hoped the joint research under the centre will lead to various societal benefits, such as the development of crops that are resilient to climate change through application of biotechnology or classical breeding techniques. The U of A’s Faculty of Agricultural, Life, and Environmental Sciences will lead this initiative.