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Canada and China: A Fifty-Year Journey — An appreciation of B. M. Frolic’s work

Canada and China: A Fifty-Year Journey — An appreciation of B. M. Frolic’s work

On January 18, 2023, the Asian Business and Management Program (ABMP), the Department of Politics and the York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR) hosted a book launch event for Professor Emeritus B. Michael Frolic’s latest book, Canada and China: A Fifty-Year Journey (University of Toronto Press 2022). Presently ABMP’s Executive Director, Professor Frolic taught Soviet and Chinese politics in York’s Department of Politics beginning in 1966. The event was well attended by academics, students and public members all eager to hear the author’s insights.

Rooted in archival research, extensive interviews and the author’s experience as a policy observer, Canada and China: A Fifty-Year Journey presents a thorough record of Canada’s diplomatic ties with China, recounted through 10 stories regarding Canadian government’s China policy decisions since 1970.

Professor Frolic in China in 1974

As part of his comments, Professor Frolic shared how a 1965 trip to Beijing after a year studying Soviet urban government and planning in Moscow sealed the fate of his academic career: a more than 50-year focus on China and more than 60 visits to the country as a professor, Canadian diplomat, scholar and executive educator followed. He interviewed over 100 Canadian and Chinese officials, including five prime ministers and several top Chinese leaders, for the book.

Panel members field questions during the event.

Professor Frolic’s comments were followed by a panel discussion of the book led by Qiang Zha (Education). The panel included Susan Gregson (Distinguished Fellow at The Asia Pacific Foundation); Margaret McCuaig-Johnston (Advisory Board Member, China Risks Institute); Kim Richard Nossal (Professor Emeritus of Political Studies, Queen's University); and Jeremy Paltiel (Professor of Political Science, Carleton University). The panelists reflected on the immense value of the book's insights into the evolution of the relationship between the two countries as well as the associated sense of Canadian self-identity on the world stage, which the state of the relationship elicited. They also discussed the book’s relevance in the current political climate, emphasizing that it provides an important opportunity for Canadians to better understand the complexity of the history between the two countries, and to engage in constructive dialogue about its future. At the panel’s conclusion, Frolic and the panelists fielded questions from the virtual and in-person audiences regarding various issues impacting current Canada-China relations.

“The book launch event served as an important reminder of the need for dialogue and understanding between Canada and China as well as the importance of keeping the provenance of the relationship between the countries in focus when formulating new policies,” said Elena Caprioni, ABMP Program Director and the event’s organizer.

View the book launch event and hear unique, wide-ranging and insightful perspectives from Professor Frolic and the expert panel on the Canada-China relationship here; read an insightful review of the book here; and purchase Canada and China: A Fifty-Year Journey here.