Canada is looking west, way west, rather than south after the United States turned down the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
In an interview with Reuters, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said his government was exploring opportunities with China in order to get the country's oil to market.
"I think we need to be clear. As much as I want to see that Keystone project proceed, this incident underscores the fact it is in this country's national interest to be able to sell its products beyond the United States," Harper said.
He said it's essential that Canada's economy is not tied to any American political decision. He said its important that Canada be positioned to sell its products to all of the world's largest markets.
But while trying to develop a closer relationship with China for economic reasons, Harper also said the country was continuing to press its desire for China to respect human rights.
"We will continue to do that," Harper said. "My judgment is this. I obviously welcome the growth of the Chinese economy, but I remain convinced, and as our history shows, in the longterm, economic and political progress are linked. One helps the other. If they don't move together, one will retard the other."
Harper is leading a high-level trade mission to China this week.