Brief but intense. This was the anger that the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, threw at the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, this Wednesday for having shared with the press details of the informal conversation that both had a day before on the margins of the G20 summit in Indonesia. The awkward meeting, captured on video, soon went viral on social networks, and highlights the complicated moment that relations between the two leaders and their countries are going through.

“Everything we discussed was leaked to a newspaper; that is not appropriate”, said the Chinese through an interpreter in this second meeting. “That’s not the way the conversation was conducted,” added a noticeably annoyed Xi, who then referred to the need for “sincerity” in order to have a fruitful discussion.

Before the interpreter could complete the translation, Trudeau interrupted him to say that they have to work together even if there are disagreements. “In Canada we believe in a free, open and frank dialogue and that is what we will continue to have. We will continue to seek to work together constructively, but there will be things that we will not agree on and we will have to… ”he stated without time to finish his sentence.

“Let’s create the conditions first,” Xi settled, who with those last words and a handshake with his counterpart ended the conversation before both left in opposite directions.

The tense conversation between the two, lasting just 40 seconds, occurred a day after the two had an informal meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit. Canadian government sources later said the two leaders had discussed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and North Korea and that Trudeau had raised “serious concerns” with Xi about China’s increasingly aggressive “interference activities” in Canadian politics. .

Xi’s visible irritation contrasts with the image of calm that he projects in the vast majority of his public appearances, planned to the millimeter and little given to improvisations and surprises.

After almost three years without leaving his country due to the zero covid policy, the Chinese president became the most requested figure at the meeting in Bali, where he held numerous bilateral meetings with leaders from around the world. Among them were those of the United States and Australia, with which Beijing wanted to channel relations that have deteriorated greatly in recent years.

However, that was not the case in Canada. The ties between the two began to deteriorate rapidly in 2018 after the Canadian authorities detained in her territory – at the request of the United States – Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive of the technology company Huawei, founded by her father.

Beijing reacted with a commercial boycott of various products and the imprisonment for alleged espionage of two Canadian citizens present in its territory, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, a dispute that ended last year with a kind of prisoner exchange.

In recent times, criticism from Trudeau and other senior officials against China’s “interference” in their domestic politics has become increasingly common, with reports pointing to Beijing for secretly financing 11 candidates in the 2019 Canadian elections.