China’s President Xi Jinping has angrily rebuked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after Canadian officials shared details of an informal meeting with the media.
This meeting and the subsequent leak have highlighted the cold relationship between the two countries. Trudeau’s team had told media that Xi discussed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, North Korea and the importance of the Cop15 biodiversity conference in December, where China and Canada will co-host nations in an effort to “to protect nature and fight climate change”.
In dramatic footage from the G20 summit in Indonesia, Xi can be seen pulling Trudeau aside and saying it was “not appropriate” for details about a previous informal conversation to have been leaked to the media.
Xi further suggested Trudeau lacked “sincerity” as a leader in his approach toward Canada-China relations. Xi says to Trudeau through a translator:
“Everything we discuss has been leaked to the paper, that’s not appropriate. And that’s not the way the conversation was conducted.”
Trudeau said, interrupting Xi’s translator:
“In Canada, we believe in free and open and frank dialogue and that is what we will continue to have. We will continue to look to work constructively together but there will be things we will disagree on.”
The two leaders ended their encounter by shaking hands and leaving in opposite directions with Xi telling Trudeau that the two nations must “create the conditions first”.
Former Canadian ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jaques told CTV News that “it’s very unusual for a Chinese leader to act in this way.” He added:
“My impression of all of this is that this shows that Xi Jinping wanted to send a clear message to the prime minister and to other leaders and there’s not much sympathy I would say, for Mr. Trudeau.… Clearly, Xi Jinping feels that Canada is a minor country.”
Xi also met French President Emmanuel Macron and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
Before this uncomfortable exchange, Trudeau had raised “serious concerns” with Xi over China’s increasingly aggressive “interference activities” that are seen as undermining Canada’s democracy.
Speaking to the media, Trudeau said not every conversation with Xi was “going to be easy” and Canada needed to “engage constructively and directly while at the same time be there to challenge on human rights and values that matter to Canadians”.