Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed disappointment with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi for his criticism of a journalist while on an official visit to Ottawa.
Wang reacted angrily to a Canadian reporter’s question about China’s human rights record in a press conference Wednesday, saying it reflected “prejudice” against his country. Wang also demanded, and got, a meeting with Trudeau during his visit, The Globe and Mail newspaper reported, citing unidentified officials.
Trudeau said Friday freedom of the press is important to him, and that he told Wang and China’s ambassador about Canada’s “dissatisfaction with the way our journalists are treated.”
In meeting Chinese officials, Trudeau “highlighted our concerns around human rights and specifically brought up the case of Kevin Garratt, a Canadian citizen imprisoned for espionage without any evidence to support the allegations and accusations,” the prime minister told reporters in Winnipeg. “We will continue to bring up human rights concerns every chance we get while at the same time we work to create economic opportunities both for Canadians and Chinese citizens.”
Wang’s remarks, made alongside Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion, overshadowed the pro-trade message of the meeting. “Your question is full of prejudice against China and arrogance. I don’t know where this comes from, this is totally unacceptable,” Wang said through a translator, stressing China’s record of economic growth. “Do you think development is possible for China without protection of human rights?”
Trudeau’s meeting with Wang came a week after a visit to Japan and a Group of Seven summit there that riled China. The prime minister has pledged to build ties with both China and its rivals in Asia, and is due to visit Beijing later this year.