Canada says new border accord with China will speed deportations

September 25, 2016 7:24 PM EDT

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks to Montreal businessmen at the 6th China-Canada Economic & Trade Cooperation Forum in Montreal, Canada September 23, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

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TORONTO (Reuters) - An agreement signed between Canada's border agency and China will result in the faster deportation of Chinese citizens deemed inadmissible by Canadian authorities, a Liberal government spokesman said on Sunday.

The deal will allow Chinese officials to travel to Canada to interview Chinese citizens considered inadmissible, with the aim of verifying their identities and documents, said Scott Bardsley, press secretary to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale. Bardsley said the verification process could otherwise take a long time and had often delayed deportations.

According to Canada's immigration department, those deemed inadmissible include people with criminal records, serious health or financial issues or who have lied on their visa applications.

The agreement, a one-year pilot program, was part of law enforcement accords signed during Premier Li Keqiang's Canadian visit last week.

The border agency agreement, which will not be in place immediately, is similar to one China has with the European Union, and officials from both countries will revisit the matter in November, said Bardsley.

The Chinese Embassy in Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Both countries are also talking about an extradition treaty, which China has long wanted so it can press for the return of what it says are corrupt officials who fled to Canada. Human rights advocates are opposed, citing what they say is a flawed Chinese justice system.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, elected last year, is trying to improve ties and increase trade with China, the world's second-largest economy, after a decade of rocky relations under his Conservative predecessor.

The countries on Thursday settled a trade dispute and said they would start exploratory talks on a free trade pact.

The countries also signed a memorandum of understanding under which the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Ministry of Public Security of China will cooperate to combat a broad range of crimes. Bardsley said the memorandum was a renewal of a similar one signed in 2010 that called for broad cooperation.

(Reporting by Ethan Lou in Toronto; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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