POLITICS
03/25/2014 10:30 EDT | Updated 05/25/2014 05:59 EDT

Stephen Harper hints at China trip this year

Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Chinese President Xi Jinping he may visit China later this year.

The two men met briefly on the margins of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, just a day after G7 leaders pulled themselves out of the G8 with Russia and decided to boycott the upcoming Sochi summit in order to hold one of their own in Brussels in June.

Harper expressed his condolences to Xi regarding the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which officials now believe went down in the southern Indian Ocean. About two-thirds of the plane's passengers were from China.

The two also discussed Gov. Gen. David Johnston's recent trip to the country.

A visit from Harper would be the first to China since his government approved a $15.1-billion bid for Nexen Inc. by Chinese state oil company CNOOC in December 2012.

At the time, Harper also announced new guidelines for evaluating proposed takeovers of Canadian companies by state-owned enterprises, which would help evaluate the possible influence of a foreign government in the enterprise.

Foreign ownership limits

The guidelines mean CNOOC's bid could be one of the last foreign state-owned company takeovers in the oilsands. The new rules say that from now on those bids will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

Harper also met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the second and final day of the summit, which has been focused on ensuring the globe's nuclear materials cannot be acquired by extremist groups. 

The two leaders discussed trade and touched on the G7's concerns about the Russian crisis. Both Canada and Japan are in the G7, and Japan is Canada's fourth-largest trading partner, with bilateral merchandise trade exceeding $24 billion in 2013.

Harper was expected to meet with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key later Tuesday. 

By the day's end, Harper will make a statement to mark the conclusion of The Hague summit.