The Chinese president has chastised Justin Trudeau for leaking details of a meeting in which the Canadian prime minister expressed concern about alleged Chinese interference in Canadian affairs.
Their brief exchange G20 summit in Indonesia was captured by a television camera.
“Everything we discussed has been leaked to the newspaper; it’s not appropriate,” Xi Jinping told Trudeau through an interpreter.
“And that’s not…the way the conversation was conducted, if there’s any sincerity on your part,” Mr. Xi said, at which point Mr. Trudeau interrupted.
“In Canadawe believe in free, open and frank dialogue and that is what we will continue to have,” said Mr. Trudeau.
“We will continue to seek to work together constructively, but there will be things we disagree on.”
Mr. Xi looked around as Mr. Trudeau answered.
“Let’s create the conditions first,” Xi replied through the interpreter, before the couple shook hands.
The Canadian prime minister and Mr. Xi spoke for the first time at the G20 last Tuesday.
A Canadian official said they discussed Ukraine, North Korea and climate change, and that Mr Trudeau raised “our serious concerns about interference activities in Canada”.
Asked at a press conference later about the confrontation, Trudeau said “not every conversation will always be easy, but it’s extremely important that we continue to stand up for the things that are important to Canadians.”
“He has a red face”
Guy Saint-Jacques, Canada’s former ambassador to China, said he believed Mr. Xi purposely berated Mr. Trudeau on camera.
“When you look at him he has a red face, he moves his arms,” he said.
“He looks flustered. Obviously he wasn’t happy that Trudeau leaked the details of the meeting. Interestingly, he said that was not how the meeting went.”
Mr. Saint-Jacques said it was likely that Mr. Xi wanted to send a message that Canada will not dictate the terms of the relationship and that Mr. Trudeau better heed it.
“It is very unusual to see Xi Jinping engage in this kind of public exercise to criticize someone,” added Mr. Saint-Jacques.
Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly also said she discussed interference with her Chinese counterpart at the G20.
Ms Joly said last week that China was an increasingly disruptive power and warned companies against deepening ties with the country.
Canadian police on Monday charged a Hydro-Quebec employee with espionage for allegedly sending trade secrets to China.
Relations between Beijing and Ottawa have also deteriorated in recent years after Canadian authorities arrested a senior executive at tech company Huawei who had been charged with fraud by the United States.
China jailed two Canadians shortly after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou – Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of the company’s founder, on an extradition request from the United States.
They were returned to Canada last yearon the same day, Ms. Meng returned to China after reaching an agreement with US authorities in her case.
Many countries have accused China of engaging in “hostage politics”, while Beijing has described the accusations against Huawei and Ms Meng as a politically motivated attempt to curb China’s economic and technological development.
Canada has prohibited wireless service providers from installing Huawei equipment in its high-speed 5G networks, joining allies including the UK in shunning the company due to its close ties to the Communist Party and the People’s Liberation Army.