Best to engage with China: Baird

Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on...

Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa April 3, 2012. (REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

JESSICA MURPHY, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 5:03 PM ET

OTTAWA - Canadians are justified in their wariness of China's growing power and influence, says Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.

In a year when the Conservatives heavily wooed the economic juggernaut for trade deals, Canadians expressed deep concerns about its human rights record, its reputation for spying, and the takeover of Nexen by Chinese state-owned CNOOC.

"Listen, Canadians are right to be skeptical of any big power," Baird admitted during a wide-ranging end-of-year interview Friday.

But the Communist country isn't a foe - and there's simply too much value for Canada and its economy in deepening our ties, he maintained.


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