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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Canadian PM Trudeau raises human rights in first meeting with President Xi Jinping

November 16, 2015

By David Akin

Toronto Sun, November 16, 2015 - China has welcomed Justin Trudeau into the international family of world leaders like a long-lost son.

Trudeau and Xi Jinping, China’s president, met Monday morning on the margins of the G20 Summit being held here.

Xi started off by saying China was grateful for what Pierre Trudeau did in 1970, when Canada became one of the first countries in the West to officially recognize the Communist government in mainland China.

“That was an extraordinary political vision," Xi told Pierre’s son. "China will always remember that.”

Xi’s extraordinarily warm greeting to Justin Trudeau, coming less than two weeks after he’d been sworn into the job, is in sharp contrast to Stephen Harper, who had to wait more than three years for a nice word from a Chinese president.

Harper had called out the Chinese for their human rights abuses, gave exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama honorary Canadian citizenship, and accused the Chinese state of spying for commercial gain on Canadian companies.

The Chinese were so angry at Harper they wouldn’t deal with him until he travelled to Beijing in late 2009 where he got the equivalent of a public dressing-down by China’s premier before he was allowed to talk to then president Hu Jintao.

Trudeau is starting his tenure as prime minister on a decidedly different foot with the world’s most populous country.

"I celebrate well 45 years of strong relations between Canada and China,” Trudeau told Xi.

"I'm well aware we have an opportunity to set a fresh approach in our relationship right now. I know that there are many opportunities for us to work together on economic political and cultural ties and I look forward to a very productive engagement in the coming years.”

Trudeau invited Xi to visit Ottawa before reporters were asked to leave the room for the private part of a meeting between the Canadian and Chinese delegations.

Trudeau’s office said the two sides discussed economic growth, security and cultural issues.

And, so far as China’s human rights abuses were concerned or the state’s continued persecution of religious and ethnic minorities, the PMO said Trudeau told Xi they would not always agree but said that part of maintaining a strong relationship meant expressing those concerns in a respectful way. 

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