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Xi confronts Trudeau on sidelines of G20 over alleged media leaks

Xi Jinping speaks to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Oct. 28, 2017. (Ma Zhancheng/Xinhua/Zuma Press/TNS)
November 17, 2022

This article was originally published by Radio Free Asia and is reprinted with permission.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping confronted Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit on Wednesday over alleged leaks about their one-on-one meeting, according to a video of the incident.

The encounter was apparently sparked after Reuters quoted Canadian government sources as saying that Trudeau had held a side meeting with Xi on Tuesday, their first in more than three years. During it, Trudeau reportedly expressed concerns about Chinese interference in Canadian elections.

“Everything we’ve discussed has been leaked to the papers, and this isn’t appropriate,” Xi says while seeming to force a smile in comments translated by an interpreter. “That was not the way the conversation was conducted.”

“This isn’t how we go about it, right? If there is sincerity on your part, then we shall conduct our discussions with mutual respect,” Xi said in footage from a break at the G20 obtained by CTV News Channel’s Annie Bergeron-Oliver, a reporter accompanying Trudeau. 

The Chinese interpreter failed to fully translate the entirety of Xi’s Chinese into English. After Xi said “this is inappropriate” while shaking his head in seeming disapproval, he gave Trudeau one last look, spread both hands and shook his head again while uttering, “otherwise the results may be unpredictable.”

Between Xi’s two utterances, Trudeau tried to emphasize the importance of open communication between leaders. “In Canada we believe in free and open and frank dialogue and that is what we will continue to have,” he said. “We will continue to look to work constructively together but there will be things we disagree on.”

Halfway through listening to his interpreter’s translation of Trudeau’s speech however, Xi noticed the nearby cameras. Xi then repeated the phrase, “Let’s create the conditions” twice, shook hands with Trudeau and quickly left.

A report from Reuters on Tuesday revealed that Trudeau and Xi’s meeting had been preceded by the arrest of an employee from Canada’s largest power company. The man was charged with allegedly stealing trade secrets for China.

At a routine press conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning declined to comment on the incident.