Chinese leader Xi Jinping was captured by Canadian broadcasters in a rare candid moment on Wednesday, where he was filmed telling his Canadian counterpart, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, what he described as “leaking” discussions.
On the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Indonesia, Xi beamed in conversation with Trudeau in Mandarin. But the English translation of what he said was a little less friendly.
Xi’s translator said, “Everything we discussed has been leaked to the papers and it is not fair.”
Trudeau nodded and Xi spoke again. “And that’s not how it was negotiated,” said the translator.
Xi told the Canadian leader in Mandarin, “If there was honesty on your side, we will conduct our discussions from the perspective of mutual respect, otherwise there could be unforeseen consequences.”
Xi’s translator attempted to translate what was said before being cut off by Trudeau, saying only “if there was honesty on your part”.
“In Canada we believe in a free and open and frank dialogue,” Trudeau said, adding, “We will continue to work together constructively, but there will be things we will disagree on.”
“Let’s create conditions first,” said a translator on Xi’s behalf in the video. The Chinese leader then shook hands with Trudeau and left with his convoy.
The exchange offers a rare glimpse into how Xi, whose public appearances are highly choreographed, interacts with other leaders.
Their exchange comes as Xi seeks to reassert China’s global influence at a summit in the island of Bali after nearly three years of absence from the world stage.
China’s relations with United States allies have deteriorated to varying degrees in recent years, amid rising geopolitical tensions, disputes over trade and the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as Beijing’s growing partnership with Moscow. Despite Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Xi met with US President Joe Biden on Monday and sought to restore ties at the summit. He also held formal talks with the leaders of Australia, France, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, Senegal, Argentina, Indonesia and South Korea.
Canada was not afforded such a meeting, and the countries’ relations may have soured since Huawei senior executive Meng Wanzhou was detained in Canada in 2018. The two Canadians were detained in China nine days later. All three were slated to release in 2021.