Justin Trudeau Has Been Trying to Get the Chinese to Take His Call Since January

China's Prime Minister can't understand why an American provincial governor keeps trying to reach him

CBC reports that Trudeau called the Chinese Premier Li in January but the latter wouldn’t take the call. Since then Freeland has been trying to at least get a hold of the foreign minister Wang Yi, but he won’t answer either. She is now reduced to publicly pleading for a chance to talk to the Chinese in a meeting or at least over the phone:

…if Chinese officials are listening to us today, let me repeat that I would be very, very keen to meet with Minister Wang Yi or to speak with him over the phone at the earliest opportunity.

The conservative opposition says it’s worrying that Trudeau can’t get a call with his “counterpart” in Beijing but that is just it. Trudeau is not his counterpart. Li is the premier of an independent nation, but Trudeau is a stooge for the US. By nabbing Huawei’s founder’s daughter for Washington he proved as much. If the Chinese want something from Canada they may as well talk to Trump directly. Until Trudeau shows Ottawa can decide things for itself what is there to talk about?

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:

Beijing ignored a personal attempt by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this year to arrange a conversation with China’s premier in order to intervene on behalf of Canadians detained in China, CBC News has learned.

“You are reaching out to Prime Minister Li Keqiang,” begins a Jan. 11 briefing note to Trudeau, drafted in preparation for that phone call.

Li is China’s head of government and its chief administrator, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the nation. (China’s premier is also referred to as ‘prime minister’.)

Trudeau’s office confirms that the prime minister requested the meeting, but China ignored and ultimately rejected his request.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office said Trudeau requested the call prior to a sentencing hearing for Robert Schellenberg, a Canadian man accused of drug smuggling in China.

“In advance of the January 14 sentencing hearing for Robert Schellenberg, the Prime Minister requested a call with Premier Li Keqiang, so that he could personally advocate for clemency in this case as well as reinforce our repeated call for the immediate release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor,” said PMO spokesperson Chantal Gagnon in a statement.

Businessman Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig were detained separately in December, shortly after Canada arrested Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on a U.S. extradition warrant.

Trudeau has condemned the detention of the Canadians as “arbitrary.”

Following the rejection of Trudeau’s request for phone conversation with Li, a Chinese court sentenced Schellenberg to death in a sudden retrial, escalating an already tense situation.

Secret diplomacy

The heavily redacted 10-page briefing note prepared in advance of the call — dubbed “Outreach to Prime Minister Li Keqiang of China” — provides the first public glimpse into Trudeau’s behind-the-scenes efforts to engage the Chinese government directly. It involved the highest level of Canada’s bureaucracy and was led by Greta Bossenmaier, Trudeau’s national security and intelligence adviser.

The note, marked “secret”, was obtained by CBC News under the federal Access to Information Act.

It outlines preparations that took place as the diplomatic rift between the two countries deepened.

Trudeau and Li last met in late 2018 at the ASEAN summit in Singapore, something the prime minister’s advisers saw as an opening for discussion.

“It was a pleasure to see you in Singapore in November. It was a good opportunity to review the many important mutually beneficial areas of cooperation,” say the suggested introductory talking points prepared for Trudeau and listed in the briefing note.

The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa and the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing did not immediately respond to CBC News’ request for comment about Trudeau’s request.

Cold shoulder

Roland Paris, a former foreign policy adviser to the prime minister, said the documents suggest the rejection is all part of China’s strategy.

“If indeed China refused to arrange this call, then it would be consistent with China having frozen communications between our two countries, including at very high levels,” said Paris, now an associate professor of public and international affairs at the University of Ottawa.

Canada is stuck in an extremely difficult situation with very little leverage, and our relations with China will probably remain frozen, at least until Ms. Meng’s extradition hearing is resolved.”

In the weeks following the rebuffed call, Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland held dozens of high-level discussions with foreign heads of government, ministers and diplomats in an effort to rally an international coalition of countries to publicly speak out in support of the detained Canadians.

At home, Trudeau has been under increasing pressure, particularly from Conservatives, to reach out to the Chinese leadership.

“I actually think that by picking up the phone and having that kind of conversation, we might be able to defuse the situation,” Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said.

Trudeau ‘isn’t taken seriously’ – Raitt

Today, Conservative deputy leader Lisa Raitt said the snub by Beijing only proves that Trudeau isn’t “taken seriously on the world stage.”

“It’s pretty serious when your prime minister can’t get a phone call with another world leader,” she said. “If he can’t get a phone call with the premier of China, that’s just going to show them how ineffectual he is.”

Last week, the prime minister said he was considering “engaging directly” with Chinese President Xi Jinping as tensions between Canada and China continue to smoulder.

“I look forward to being at the G20 in a few weeks as an opportunity to engage with a number of world leaders with whom we have either good working relationships or challenges,” Trudeau said June 6, speaking about the upcoming gathering in Japan. “The opportunity to engage with the Chinese president directly is certainly something that we are looking at.”

The G20 will meet in Osaka at the end of the month.

Freeland said she repeatedly tried and failed to get a meeting with her counterpart, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

“It’s very clear that this is a very difficult moment in the relationship between Canada and China,” she told CBC Radio last month.

“I have sought repeatedly a meeting with Wang Yi, the foreign minister, my counterpart. Thus far that meeting hasn’t happened. But if Chinese officials are listening to us today, let me repeat that I would be very, very keen to meet with Minister Wang Yi or to speak with him over the phone at the earliest opportunity.”

  1. […] China’s Prime Minister can’t understand why an American provincial governor keeps trying… […]

  2. […] Justin Trudeau Has Been Trying to Get the Chinese to Take His Call Since January […]

  3. Jorge Trevino says

    Indeed, if someone requires something from Canada, you better dial Washington. Why calling a rustic province for?

  4. CHUCKMAN says

    Good God, CBC News now says Trudeau is visiting Trump next week, hoping to raise this problem, looking for help with the two Canadians in Chinese custody.

    Trump, now there’s a guy with a lot of clout in China right now.

    Of course, Trump could rescind the extradition request, taking Trudeau off the hook about Meng.

    But that really doesn’t fit in with his whole mad rush (some would call it strategy) towards China.

    It’s rather pathetic seeing Trudeau going around begging for help. China turned him down even for a brief meeting.

    He could have avoided the whole affair by just quietly warning Meng not to land.

    Or he could show the least bit of spunk by declaring the extradition request as invalid since it involves matters that are not crimes in Canada. Or found some other excuse, like requiring more evidence. It’s always possible to find an excuse if you try. Extradition requests are not diktats.

    Well, whatever the outcome, I’m afraid Canada has been shown in a mighty poor light by the actions of perhaps its most ineffectual leader in modern history.

    But I should add, not all Canadians see it that way. A fair number take the view that Canada is being attacked by China. I’m afraid American views and attitudes are increasingly finding a home in Canada.

    After all, Trudeau’s unpleasant Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland, heads up that CIA front, the Lima Group, whose purpose is to assist in the overthrow of Venezuela and other Latin states Washington happens to hate. And she echoes, albeit in a quieter, gentler voice, most of the animal grunts from Washington about a range of matters, from Russia to Iran.

  5. JustPassingThrough says

    No tickee, No washee. 😸

  6. All_has_An _END_. says

    The Chinese have the right attitude , it is a waste of time to talk to a puppet or a vassal state

  7. Aen RaBeon says

    Until Trudeau shows Ottawa can decide things for itself what is there to talk about?
    Exactly. Well said.

  8. John C Carleton says

    Maybe the RothsRats boy prefers Asian men?

  9. Seán Murphy says

    Why talk with the monkey when you can go directly to the organ grinder?

  10. thomas malthaus says

    How do you spell Huawei?

  11. CHUCKMAN says

    Among thinking Canadians, Trudeau has made a laughing stock of himself with every step in the Meng Affair, just displaying flat-footed, blundering incompetence.

    He has, of course, been guided by his truly unpleasant Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland, an American wannabe and Neocon-lite if ever there was one in Canada’s Liberal Party, a party whose long-term record includes such distinguished figures in foreign affairs as Lester Pearson, Pierre Trudeau, and Paul Martin.

    It became clear some while ago, through a number of events and scandals, that Justin Trudeau completely lacks the fierce intelligence and independent-mindedness of his late father, Pierre.

    He depends on Chrystia Freeland more than anyone else in his government, and she, despite her intelligence, has given bad guidance. She has many apparent prejudices.

    After all, those two American horrors, Pompeo and Bolton, are both pretty intelligent. But intelligence alone, as we know from many examples in history, does not save or redeem people with heavy prejudices.




    1. Jedi says

      Canada should just free that CFO. There’s nothing to gain by holding her and everything to lose. She broke no Canadian laws so all this damage for what? USA doesn’t even care about Canada.

      1. CHUCKMAN says


        Justin just doesn’t get it.

        No extradition treaty requires extraditing people for charges that aren’t crimes in your own country. And all extradition treaties allow for some judgment as well as the right to request additional evidence.

        A lot of ordinary people do not understand that and think Canada is under assault by China. Quite the opposite, it is under assault by the US.

        The Huawei stuff all reflects America’s new imperial hubris and inability to honestly compete. Nothing else.

        All the Ottawa braintrust – Trudeau and Freeland – had to do in the first place to avoid everything was see that Meng was warned not to land.

        So simple, but either because of a new dogged loyalty to the US, or sheer incompetence, nothing was done.

        Ergo, a diplomatic disaster.

        By the way, we had an excellent, astute ambassador in China, but after he offered a few helpful public words (perhaps going a bit out of ordinary protocols but nothing terrible, and good advice) he was fired. He hasn’t even been replaced.

        I knew a number of bright young Chinese students in Canada for a few years – taught economics to some – and I know you cannot demean or embarrass China without consequences. They are very proud people and cohesive.

        It’s simply stunning how thick this government has been on this file.

        1. sunkist says

          excellent information

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