Chinese leader Xi Jinping was captured by Canadian broadcasters on Wednesday in a rare candid moment in which he was filmed scolding his Canadian counterpart, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, over what he described as “leaked” discussions.
On the sidelines of the G20 summit in Indonesia, Xi smiled and chatted with Trudeau in Mandarin. But the English translation of what he said was a little less friendly.
“Everything we discussed leaked to the newspapers and it’s not appropriate,” said Xi’s translator.
Trudeau nods and Xi speaks again. “And that’s not how the conversation was conducted,” said the translator.
“If you were sincere, we will conduct our discussion with an attitude of mutual respect, otherwise there could be unpredictable consequences,” Xi tells the Canadian leader in Mandarin.
Xi’s translator attempts to translate what was being said, but only gets “If your side was sincere” before being interrupted by Trudeau.
“In Canada, we believe in free, open and honest dialogue,” Trudeau said, adding, “We will continue to work together constructively, but there will be things that we don’t agree on.”
“Let’s create the conditions first,” the translator said on behalf of Xi in the video. The Chinese leader then shakes Trudeau’s hand and walks away with his entourage.
The exchange offers a rare glimpse of how Xi, whose public appearances are highly choreographed, interacts with other leaders.
Their exchange comes as Xi seeks to reassert China’s global clout at the Bali Island summit after a nearly three-year absence from the world stage.
China’s relations with the United States’ allies have deteriorated to varying degrees in recent years due to rising geopolitical tensions, trade disputes and the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as Beijing’s growing partnership with Moscow – despite Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Xi has sought to restore ties at the summit and met with US President Joe Biden on Monday. He also held formal talks with the leaders of Australia, France, the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, Senegal, Argentina, Indonesia and South Korea.
Canada was not granted such a meeting, and the snub may relate to the country’s troubled relations since Huawei’s senior executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada in 2018. Two Canadians were arrested in China nine days later. All three were released in 2021.