Posted by Tonda MacCharles, Ottawa Bureau
BEIJING-Now it's Green Gables Diplomacy.
Laureen Harper, wife of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, wrote the foreword of a Chinese translation of the Canadian classic, Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
Her husband was in the spotlight at a Canadian tourism event in Beijing to launch a 2012 travel campaign to lure tourists.
And signed copies of the book she pitched were on offer.
At the Chinese Youth Travel Services Bureau, Mrs. Harper watched as giant three-storey banners were unfurled picturing the Calgary Stampede - her Alberta stomping grounds.
She is fiercely passionate about the West, and she craned her neck to see the massive wall-sized mural.
But she is clearly a Green Gables fan herself.
READ MORE: Harper in China
Her foreword entices the Chinese to delve into the land further east than Canada's west.
"In the character of Anne Shirley, author Lucy Maud Montgomery created someone we can all recognize – and love – for her independent spirit, her kind and generous heart, and her boundless imagination," writes Harper.
Montgomery’s "powerful story of an orphaned child growing up in a small farming village on Prince Edward Island often moves readers to tears, both of sadness and joy."
"At the same time, Anne inspires us with her honourable universal values, including love of nature, respect for community, and finding satisfaction in hard work and accomplishment. "Like good people everywhere, Anne makes her small world a better place."
"I hope you enjoy Anne of Green Gables as much as I and my family have," she says, inviting Chinese readers to travel to Canada to discover her world.
Ottawa says the traffic of Chinese tourists to Canada has jumped 25 per cent since 2009 when China granted the country "approved destination status" - and was worth $15 billion in 2010.
in the first 11 months of 2011, it meant 232,000 travellers from China made the trek.