GUANGZHOU, China -- Canada wants to sell more oil to China but won't shy away from raising the issue of human rights as economic ties between the two strengthen, the Canadian prime minister said on Friday.

Stephen Harper said Canada has "abundant supplies of virtually every form of energy" and will sell to whoever wants to buy.

"It's that simple," he said.

Harper said Canada wants to diversify its energy sales away from the United States, a major theme of his visit to energy-hungry China.

But he added that "in relations between China and Canada, you should expect us to continue to raise issues of fundamental freedoms and human rights."

"And to be a vocal advocate for these just as we will be an effective partner in our growing and mutually beneficial economic relationship."

The remarks to a business group in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou were his first public comments on human rights since he arrived in China on Tuesday. There were no senior Chinese officials in attendance.

Harper is heading a 40-strong delegation of Canadian business leaders that have signed $3 billion in deals this week.