Beijing/Bali: Chinese President Xi Jinping and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday exchanged barbs on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali over the leaked reports of their meeting.
In perhaps a very rare open remark captured on television camera, an agitated Xi was seen objecting to Trudeau saying whatever they discussed in their earlier meeting was leaked to the media.
"Everything we discuss has been leaked to the paper, that's not appropriate," Xi told Trudeau through a translator on the sidelines of the closing session of the G20 meeting.
"That is not how the way the conversation was conducted," he said, adding "if there is sincerity, we will have a good conversation. Otherwise, the result is hard to say."
Xi spoke in Chinese which his official interpreter conveyed in English to Trudeau.
Trudeau stood his ground
But 50-year-old Trudeau, who looked impatient, interrupted the translator, saying: "We believe in free and open and frank dialogue and that is what we will continue to have. We will continue to look to work constructively together but there will be things we will disagree on."
For which, 69-year-old Xi said, "let us create the conditions first", after which the two shook hands and went separate ways.
Asked about his exchange with Xi, Trudeau said, "not every conversation is going to be easy but it's extremely important we stand up for the things that are important to Canadians".
Xi and Trudeau met briefly on the sidelines of G20 summit
Xi and Trudeau reportedly met briefly on the sidelines of the G20 meeting during which they discussed the tense state of affairs between the two countries.
For its part, China has not acknowledged Xi's meeting with Trudeau.
Asked to confirm reports of their meeting, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told the media briefing here that "I have nothing to share at the moment".
Rare public outburst by Xi
It is perhaps rarest of the rare public outburst by Xi, who was elected last month for an unprecedented third five year term by the ruling Communist Party of China.
Known to be suave and steady in public while tough and authoritative in private, Xi had a host of meetings with several world leaders including with US President Joe Biden at Bali and also exchanged pleasantries with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a reception on the sidelines of the G20 meeting.
Canadian media outlet Global News reported that in their 10-minute conversation Trudeau had raised the issue of alleged Chinese interference in Canadian elections.
Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly also confirmed that she discussed the same topics with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.
For over the years China and Canada had a bitter relationship
For over three years China and Canada had a bitter relationship mainly over the detention of Meng Wanzhou, the high-profile daughter of Chinese telecom giant Huawei by Canadian and US officials, over alleged bank fraud and waged a long legal battle to avert her extradition to America for trial.
She was finally released from legal detention in September last year by Canada after striking a deal with US prosecutors over the bank fraud case that had kept her in legal limbo for nearly three years.
She was released in exchange of two former Canadian diplomats Michael Spavor, Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor who were arrested in China in 2018 in tit-for-tat retaliation to Meng's arrest.
Meng was given a hero's welcome when she returned home.
In the last few weeks, Canada has alleged Chinese interference in Canadian elections by funding 11 federal candidates who ran in the 2019 polls.