“Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and China’s president Xi Jinping exchanged pleasantries at a summit in San Francisco, but did not have a formal meeting, according to a senior government source. Neither have they spoken on the sidelines at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation as the U.S. and China work to restore diplomatic dialogue. Despite being positioned next to each other during the summit’s family photo, the prime minister only acknowledged Xi with a nod. Canada’s Special Envoy to the Indo-Pacific, Ian McKay, expressed the hope that the two leaders would have the opportunity to converse at the summit. He believed that yesterday’s successful bilateral between President Biden and President Xi indicates the potential for a “reset” in their perspectives and a willingness to engage more consistently and realistically.”
Progress in U.S.-China relations
U.S. President Joe Biden met with Xi Jinping for a four-hour-long conversation that led to constructive outcomes, such as an agreement to curb fentanyl production and to restart military-to-military contact to prevent misunderstandings that may lead to conflict. However, following the meeting, political tensions arose when Biden referred to Xi as a dictator during a press conference. China’s foreign ministry criticized this as “extremely wrong and irresponsible political manipulation,” according to Reuters.
Tense history and future implications
The last time Trudeau and Xi had a conversation at the G20 talks in Bali, tensions rose as the Chinese president criticized Trudeau for alleged leaks from their meeting. The evidence of election interference from China has led to further strain in relations, resulting in diplomats being expelled from both countries.
Positive and diplomatic outlook
Canada’s stance regarding China remains firm; however, Trudeau has expressed his willingness to engage with China on various issues, such as climate change, and to challenge the Chinese government on human rights. Canadian officials have denied asking the U.S. to bring up issues with Xi on Canada’s behalf and have commended the recent Biden and Xi meeting as a diplomatic accomplishment. At the same time, Canada’s approach has remained consistent, with no overt endeavors to mend relations with China at the summit.
Hopes for the future
The Chinese embassy mentioned the importance of the relationship between China and Canada and expressed a desire for both countries to work together to enhance mutual trust and cooperation. However, with Canada’s ongoing interference inquiry, many believe it is too politically risky to appear lenient on China. Despite this, there remains hope and ongoing diplomatic policy for potential future progress in relations.
In conclusion, the relationship between Canada and China is fraught with political complexities and challenges. It is critical that both countries continue to engage in open, respectful dialogue, especially when facing contentious issues. While the recent meeting between U.S. President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping shows signs of progress, it is unclear if a similar milestone in Canadian-Chinese relations is on the horizon.”