‘Not appropriate’: China’s Xi scolds Canada’s Trudeau in public spat at G20 summit

Chinese President Xi Jinping berated Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on camera at the G20 summit, an unusual public spat that could further complicate strained relations between the two countries.

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Footage recorded by reporters at the Bali conclave of world leaders on Wednesday showed Xi accusing Trudeau after details of a discussion between the two leaders were leaked to the media.

Trudeau had on Tuesday raised the issue with Xi of what he called Chinese “interference” with Canadian citizens after Ottawa in recent weeks accused Beijing of meddling in its democratic and legal systems.

In the one-minute video recorded on the sidelines of the Indonesian summit, Xi tells Trudeau through an interpreter: “Everything we discussed has been leaked to the newspapers. It’s not appropriate.”

Xi speaks evenly and wears a slight smile: “And that’s not how (our discussion) was conducted, right?

“If there is sincerity, we can have talks based on an attitude of mutual respect. Otherwise, the results will be unpredictable,” he adds, looking directly at Trudeau.

Xi then appears to try to move past Trudeau, but the Canadian leader responds: “In Canada, we believe in free, open and honest dialogue, and that is what we will continue to have.

“We will continue to try to work constructively together, but there will be things we disagree on,” he told Xi.

Xi raises his hands and cuts him off, saying bluntly: “Create the conditions. Create the conditions.”

He then widens his smile, barely glancing at Trudeau as he shakes his hand and leaves his counterpart to exit the room.

It is not clear when, if ever, Xi becomes aware that the conversation is being filmed.

‘Embarrassing Position’

The tone was akin to “a great power speaking to a lesser power,” said Van Jackson, a lecturer in international relations at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

“Xi’s language and posture was not at all unusual for government officials who are on less than friendly terms – in private,” Jackson told AFP.

Tensions between China and the United States put Canada in a “particularly awkward position,” he said, adding that Ottawa’s “embeddedness in the network of Anglo-Saxon, intelligence-sharing democracies almost ensures that it will draw China’s ire more and more as time passes.”

Xi’s Tuesday meeting with Trudeau was the first face-to-face dialogue between the two leaders since 2019.

Canadian federal police said last week they were investigating so-called police stations set up illegally by Beijing in the North American country.

Trudeau also said last week that China was playing “aggressive games” after Canadian broadcaster Global News reported on a “secret network” of federal election candidates funded by Beijing.

Relations between the two countries hit a deep freeze when Canadian authorities arrested Huawei chief Meng Wanzhou in 2018 for allegedly flouting US sanctions against Iran.

Beijing later detained two Canadian citizens in China, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, in what critics called a stingy response.

Meng and the two Canadians were released last year after lengthy negotiations.


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