China’s Xi Jinping Chides Justin Trudeau at G-20, Video Shows

Chinese leader Xi Jinping chided Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over what he described as a media leak during a brief encounter between the adversaries on Wednesday at a Group of 20 summit in Indonesia, a video shows.

“Everything we discussed has been leaked to the paper. That’s not appropriate,” a visibly agitated Mr. Xi told Mr. Trudeau on the G-20 sidelines as the Bali summit was closing, according to a video posted on Twitter by a reporter for Canadian broadcaster CTV. The pair had met a day earlier and some details of that discussion, including accusations Mr. Trudeau leveled against China of meddling in Canadian affairs, which were subsequently reported by Canadian media.

In their encounter on Wednesday, the Canadian prime minister stressed the importance of transparency and expressed a desire to work constructively despite disagreements. The Chinese leader nonetheless appeared eager to end the discussion, turning away before Mr. Trudeau’s words were translated by Mr. Xi’s assistant.

Only the final bit of the conversation between the Chinese and Canadian leaders was captured by the video. After Mr. Xi cited the apparent leak, he raised his hands, saying “And that’s not the way the conversation was conducted…if there is sincerity on your part…we would conduct good communications in a mutually respectful manner. Otherwise the results would be hard to tell.”

Not all of Mr. Xi’s words were translated for Mr. Trudeau, who said: “In Canada, we believe in a free and open and frank dialogue. We will continue to have…We will continue to work constructively together but there will be things that we will disagree on”

Mr. Xi shook Mr. Trudeau’s hand and said, “Let’s create the conditions first,” before moving away.

The encounter, including uncomfortable body language, offered a peek into how years of testy relations between the two nations have impaired leadership ties. The two governments have traded barbs continuously since 2018 when Canada arrested a senior executive of China’s Huawei Technologies Co. on behalf of the US, an event followed by the imprisonment of two Canadians in China.

At this year’s G-20 meeting, Mr. Xi didn’t hold formal talks with Mr. Trudeau as he did with President Biden and the leaders of France and Australia, among others.

But according to a Canadian official, the pair did speak informally on Tuesday when Mr. Trudeau raised “serious concerns” about interference activities in Canada that Ottawa alleges China has orchestrated. The prime minister had highlighted that concern publicly before the G-20. Some details of that Tuesday meeting were reported by Canadian media outlets traveling with the prime minister.

Asked Wednesday about the previous day’s meeting, a spokeswoman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told a regular briefing in Beijing, “I have nothing to share at the moment.” The ministry didn’t immediately comment on the Wednesday encounter.

China’s government-run Global Times reported on Wednesday that the two leaders had spoken at the G-20 in response to Mr. Trudeau’s request to discuss the Korean Peninsula, Ukraine, Canada-China relations, biodiversity and other issues. Quoting an unnamed person, the Global Times said Mr. Xi told Mr. Trudeau’s key requirement for China-Canada relations is finding common ground while managing differences.

Fallout in the relationship, including a formal Asia-Pacific strategy by Canada due to be published soon and expected to be critical of Beijing, has had a business impact. This month, Canada cited national-security concerns in ordering divestment by Chinese companies from three Canadian miners of specialized minerals. Canada’s exports to China of commodities like bituminous coal and its purchases of Chinese electronics are underpinned by significant Chinese immigration to Canada, including from Hong Kong.

The Wall Street Journal last month published a long account of China-Canada-US negotiations that in 2021 produced a prisoner swap that freed the Chinese executive and the Canadians. Among its revelations was how China had frozen out Canadian diplomats, though Mr. Trudeau managed to briefly speak with Mr. Xi at a G-20 meeting in 2019 after passing him a note. The story was based on interviews with current and former US, Canadian and Chinese officials, plus others and extensive documentation.

Speaking to reporters before leaving Indonesia, Mr. Trudeau on Wednesday said he had defended Canada’s interests in his conversations with Mr. Xi. “I won’t shy away from being open with Canadians even as we discuss important and sometimes delicate subjects,” he told Canadian reporters. He said he highlighted areas where Canada and China have mutual interests, such as the geopolitical challenges from the war in Ukraine and uncertainty in North Korea.

“I also highlighted things of preoccupation with Canadians, such as the question of interference with our citizens and highlighted what is important for us to be able to have dialogue about this,” Mr. Trudeau said.

On Thursday, Mr. Trudeau’s account appeared to be unsearchable on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform. While Mr. Trudeau’s Weibo account wasn’t deleted, search results for his verified social media handle came up empty. Searches of Mr. Trudeau’s last name in Chinese came back scattered with only posts shared by official news sources and no posts from ordinary users were visible.

—Qianwei Zhang in Beijing contributed to this article.

Write to James T. Areddy at [email protected] and Paul Vieira at [email protected]

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