Saturday June 22, 2024

Leaking meeting details to press: Chinese president scolds Canadian PM

November 18, 2022

NUSA DUA, Indonesia: Chinese President Xi Jinping scolded Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in an on-camera dressing down at the G20 summit, an unusual public spat that could further complicate strained relations between the countries.

The video recorded by reporters at the Bali summit for world leaders showed Xi appearing to upbraid Trudeau after details of talks between the two leaders were leaked to the media.

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

In the one-minute clip captured on the sidelines of the Indonesian summit, Xi tells Trudeau through an interpreter: “Everything we discussed has been leaked to the papers. That is not appropriate.”

He adds: “And that’s not the way (our discussion) was conducted, was it?” China’s foreign ministry on Thursday sought to play down the footage, saying it showed a “normal” conversation between the two leaders and “should not be interpreted as Xi Jinping criticising or blaming anyone”. “The reasons for the difficulties in China-Canada relations in recent years are very clear,” spokeswoman Mao Ning said at a regular press briefing. “The fault does not lie with the Chinese side.” In the footage, Xi tells Trudeau: “If there is sincerity, we can have conversations based on an attitude of mutual respect. If not, the results will be unpredictable.” Xi then appears to try to walk past the Canadian leader, who replies: “In Canada, we believe in free, 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 disagree on.” Raising his hands, Xi cuts him off, saying: “Create the conditions. Create the conditions.” He then broadens his smile, barely looking at Trudeau as he shakes his hand and leaves his counterpart to make his way out of the room.

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

The foreign ministry spokeswoman denied that Xi’s words “if not” amounted to a threat, saying “both sides are expressing their respective positions”. “Frank dialogue is not a problem for China, but we hope (it) will be built on a basis of equal and mutual respect instead of condescending criticism,” she said.