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China can improve its image by tightening ties with Canada, Trudeau says

Click to play video: 'Trudeau aims to capitalize on China’s economic transformation' Trudeau aims to capitalize on China’s economic transformation
WATCH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrapped up the first day of meetings with Chinese business leaders and diplomats, where he urged the importance of a close relationship between Canada and China. Shirlee Engel reports – Aug 30, 2016

BEIJING – Justin Trudeau delivered a message to powerful business leaders in Beijing on Tuesday, shortly after his plane touched down: China needs a little more Canada.

The prime minister tried to sell China on the idea that strengthening its connection to Canada would ease international concerns about the stunning rise of the economic superpower.

WATCH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Beijing on Wednesday where he had a welcome ceremony to celebrate his arrival

Click to play video: 'Raw video: welcome ceremony in Beijing for PM Trudeau' Raw video: welcome ceremony in Beijing for PM Trudeau
Raw video: welcome ceremony in Beijing for PM Trudeau – Aug 30, 2016

Trudeau made the pitch during the first event of his week-long visit to China, where he aims to improve Canada’s gloomy growth prospects by deepening business ties with the rapidly growing Asian country.

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“Around the world there is anxiety around trade, there is anxiety around China,” Trudeau told a question-and-answer session at the China Entrepreneur Club.

READ MORE: Canola farmers worried about new China plans

He said Canada is in a “position to help China position itself in a very positive way on the world stage.”

Trudeau argued it’s because Canada is more open to trade than many countries right now and because of its “deep friendship” with China that goes back generations.

Canada, Trudeau added, can help China when it comes to governance and rule-of-law issues as well as global fears about the “tremendous appetite” of Chinese entrepreneurs and companies as they seek out foreign investments and partnerships.

“This isn’t always well received by populations and governments around the world,” he said.

“China should be – and is – confident and successful enough to know that it should be able to ask for advice and take suggestions about how to be better for its citizens, better to build a greater future.”

READ MORE: How Trudeau’s visit to China could help the case of a Canadian jailed for spying

He only mentioned human rights once during an event that lasted longer than an hour.

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Since last year’s election win, Trudeau’s Liberal government has taken a somewhat cautious approach to China amid public concerns in Canada over the country’s human-rights record.

But this trip could move things forward.

The event was moderated by Jack Ma, founder of the Alibaba e-commerce giant.

WATCH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reflects on his personal history with China

Click to play video: 'Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reflects on his personal history with China' Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reflects on his personal history with China
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reflects on his personal history with China – Aug 30, 2016

In his closing remarks, Ma predicted the Canadian-Chinese bond would grow stronger.

“We should be open to the world and open to the future,” Ma said.

Later Tuesday, Trudeau was expected to continue pursuing what he described as a “renewed relationship” at a dinner hosted by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

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He is scheduled to meet Li, the country’s second-in-command, again on Wednesday as well as President Xi Jinping.

In response to a question, Trudeau also said Canada is looking “very favourably” at the possibility of joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. On Wednesday in Beijing, Finance Minister Bill Morneau will meet with the investment bank’s president Jin Liqun.

READ MORE: Why China needs to talk trade with Canada

Later Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Trudeau elaborated on his remarks.

“Investments in infrastructure can contribute to long-term growth and help ensure a better quality of life for the middle class – it’s a belief that applies at home and abroad,” Andree-Lyne Halle wrote in an email.

“As we carefully consider joining the (bank), we look at the impact these investments would have on global economic growth and the potential for Canadian companies to explore new commercial opportunities.”

WATCH: Justin Trudeau calls for increased economic, trade ties with China
Click to play video: 'Justin Trudeau calls for increased economic, trade ties with China' Justin Trudeau calls for increased economic, trade ties with China
Justin Trudeau calls for increased economic, trade ties with China – Aug 30, 2016

Last spring, the Chinese-led bank announced its 57 intended charter members.

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The United States has expressed concern the bank will allow looser lending standards for the environment, labour rights and financial transparency. It could undercut the World Bank, where the U.S. has the most clout, and the Asian Development Bank, where the Americans are the second-largest shareholder after Japan.

Trudeau travelled to China for his first official visit with wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and seven-year-old daughter Ella-Grace.

Later in the trip, he will attend the G20 leaders’ summit in Hangzhou. He will also visit Shanghai and Hong Kong.

The prime minister is joined on the visit by Morneau, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion and International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Their main goal is to open the doors to China a little wider.

“Any economic strategy that ignores China, or that treats that valuable relationship as anything less than critically important, is not just short-sighted, it’s irresponsible,” Trudeau said.

“We know that a stronger and deeper relationship with China is essential if we are to achieve our own objectives – to create Canadian jobs, to strengthen the middle class and to grow the Canadian economy.”

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