Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he had signed deals with China worth $2.2 billion on Saturday, in a trip overshadowed by Beijing's detention of two Canadians accused of espionage.
Agreements announced on the sidelines of a meeting between Harper and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing include a commitment by the state-run China Express Corporation to buy Bombardier aircraft, and at least two fruit export deals.
Relations between the two countries became tenser over the summer after Ottawa accused Beijing of cyber-hacking, and police detained a Canadian couple living close to China's border, with state-media branding them as spies.
Asked about the detention of Kevin Garratt and Julia Dawn Garratt, who provided assistance to Christians in China and have been held since early August, Li said that, "individual cases...should be handled in accordance with the law," without offering details.
The two have reportedly been held for more than three months without access to lawyers or family members. Li said that "consultations" had been held over consular access to the couple.
Harper kicked off a visit to China on Thursday with an emphasis on economic cooperation, meeting with China's richest man and founder of Alibaba Jack Ma in the eastern province of Zhejiang.
"We've established regular access to Chinese markets for BC cherries," Harper said in Beijing, referring to a deal on exports of British Columbian fruit to China. Another agreement covering blueberry exports was also signed.
Harper added that the two countries had inked agreements on nuclear cooperation as well as the creation of a "renminbi hub," allowing Canadians to invest directly using China's currency.
Under the agreement, some Canadian financial institutions will be allowed to use funds denominated in China's yuan to invest in Chinese capital markets, up to a maximum limit of 50 billion yuan ($8.1 billion).
Harper, also in Beijing to take part in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders summit, said that two countries had also agreed to hold a regular "strategic dialogue," on economic and financial issues.