Chinese President Xi Jinping lambasted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G20 summit on Wednesday for leaking details of an earlier meeting, where Trudeau expressed concern about Chinese interference in domestic affairs.
The two met briefly at a G20 summit event in Bali, where the meeting was captured by the media. One of the television cameras behind the Chinese translator was able to capture the conversation between the two.
“Everything we discussed was leaked in the newspapers; it’s inappropriate,” Xi told Trudeau through his interpreter.
“And that doesn’t fit…with the flow of the conversation, if you’re being completely honest,” Xi added, only to be cut off by Trudeau who moved closer to Xi.
“In Canada, we believe in free and open dialogue and that’s what we will continue to do,” Trudeau said. “We will continue to try to work together constructively, even if there are things we don’t agree on.”
Xi’s gaze glanced around as Trudeau spoke.
“Let’s establish the conditions first,” Xi replied through his interpreter.
The two then shook hands after the brief exchange.
Trudeau spoke with Xi for the first time at the G20 last Tuesday (11/15). A senior Canadian government official said the two discussed the issues of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, North Korea and climate change.
At the same time, Trudeau also raised “our very serious concern about interference activities in Canada.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity, having not been authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Asked about the confrontation at a press conference, Trudeau said, “Not every discussion will be easy, but it’s very important that we continue to stand up for the things that matter to the Canadian people.”
Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly also admitted to having raised the subject of Chinese interference with the Chinese Foreign Minister during the G20.
Joly said last week that China is an increasingly disruptive global power. He warned companies against deepening ties with China, citing “geopolitical risks”.
Canadian police on Monday charged a Hydro-Quebec employee with espionage for allegedly transferring trade secrets to China. Relations between Beijing and Ottawa took a nosedive after Canadian authorities arrested a senior official at Chinese tech giant Huawei on charges of fraud by the United States.
China itself jailed two Canadian citizens shortly after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies and daughter of the company’s founder, following an extradition request from the US government. The two were returned to Canada last year, the same day Meng returned to China after reaching a settlement with US authorities in her case.
Many countries have called China’s actions “hostage politics”, while China has described the charges against Huawei and Meng as politically motivated in an attempt to stifle China’s economic and technological development.
Canada has banned wireless carriers from installing Huawei equipment on high-speed 5G networks, joining its allies in isolating the company. Huawei itself is known to be close to the Chinese Communist Party and its military wing, the People’s Liberation Army. [rd/lt]
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