This Week in History
A Window on the Chinese Market
For the week of Monday August 21, 2006
On August 21, 1972, a 10 day trade fair opened in Peking (now Beijing), China. Sponsored by Mitchell Sharp, Secretary of State for External Affairs, it was at the time the largest trade fair ever staged by Canada. Its goal was to forge a closer trading relationship with the People’s Republic of China.
The election of U.S. President Richard Nixon had affected trade relations with Canada, the United States’ “best customer,” according to Mitchell Sharp. By renewing relations with China, a country that the United States did not recognize, Canada was acquiring a new trade partner that would weaken U.S. influence. The Peking Trade Exhibition aimed to expand the range of products traded between the two countries.
The Peking Trade Exhibition of August 1972 marked an important step in the history of Canada-Asia relations. Although the event did not significantly change Canadian trade relations, it opened up a new market and helped China find a place in the international community. Mitchell Sharp’s visit to Peking in 1972 and that of Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau (designated as a National Historic Person) in 1973 raised Canada’s profile in Asia and throughout the world.
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