Chinese President Xi Jinping accuses Trudeau of 'leaking' details of conversation to media

'Everything we discuss has been leaked to the paper; that's not appropriate,' Xi told Trudeau

Posted: November 16, 2022
Last Updated: November 16, 2022

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Chinese President Xi Jinping corners Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G20 summit to rebuke him for releasing details to the public about their meeting the day before. The summit ended without a clear consensus to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine.  2:04

Chinese President Xi Jinping has accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of behaving inappropriately by leaking the substance of a conversation between the two leaders to the media. 

The accusations came as the pair crossed paths in a public space in Bali, Indonesia, where both leaders are attending the G20 summit. 

"Everything we discuss has been leaked to the paper; that's not appropriate," Xi told Trudeau through an interpreter.


"That's not ... the way the conversation was conducted. If there is sincerity on your part—" Xi said. 

WATCH | Xi confronting Trudeau was 'preordained', says former ambassador

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"It's very rare that Xi Jinping would engage in this type of behaviour," said former Canadian ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jacques of Xi confronting Trudeau. "He is very agitated, his face is red, his arms are moving...and he knows that cameras are rolling."  6:01

Trudeau interrupted the Chinese leader, telling him that while they have disagreements, they should work together. 

"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, and we will have to..." Trudeau said before Xi interrupted. 

"Let's create the conditions first," Xi said extending his hand to Trudeau, before the pair shook and parted ways. 


Trudeau and Xi spoke face to face briefly on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali on Tuesday. After the unofficial meeting, the Prime Minister's Office issued a readout of the conversation noting the topics that were discussed and who raised them. 

According to the readout, during the brief discussion between the two leaders — who have been at odds over trade and the arrest and detention of two Canadians — Trudeau raised concerns about  media reports that China covertly funded 11 candidates in the 2019 federal election.

The pair were pictured speaking informally in a crowded room in a photograph released by the Prime Minister's Office to mark the meeting. 

(Prime Minister's Office)

'I won't shy away from being open with Canadians:' Trudeau

Trudeau's talk with Xi was not an official bilateral meeting like the ones Xi had with other leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden, Argentina's President Alberto Ángel Fernández and French President Emmanuel Macron.


The PMO said the two leaders also discussed Russia's invasion of Ukraine, North Korea's continued aggression against South Korea and the upcoming COP15 summit in Montréal.

The readout does not say how Xi reacted to any of these issues, only that the two leaders "discussed the importance of continued dialogue."

At his closing press conference, Trudeau responded to the incident, saying that his government trusts its citizens want to be apprised of the work that he is doing on their behalf.

WATCH | 'I won't shy away from being open with Canadians:' Trudeau tells Xi:

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Following meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Indonesia, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canadians deserve to know the nature of conversations 'we have in their name as a government.'  0:50

"I won't shy away from being open with Canadians, even as we discuss important and sometimes delicate subjects," Trudeau said. 


"Getting the balance right between being open about disagreements and issues we raised, while being able to work constructively at the same time, is something that people have to understand is what Canadians will always do," he added.

But NDP foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson said Trudeau caused a "diplomatic incident" and argued Canada should diversify its diplomatic and trade relationships.

"China is not a reliable trade partner, and it is important we build strong relationships with other countries in the region," she said in a media statement.

Trudeau also used his closing press conference to announce that the mission to train Ukrainian soldiers in Great Britain as part of what's called Operation Unifier, which has been ongoing since 2015, will be extended to the end of 2023.

The announcement comes just days after Canada pledged another $500 million to support Ukraine's military.

WATCH | Xi made a 'fairly direct threat' to Trudeau, analyst says

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"It wasn't a veiled threat. I think it was a fairly direct threat," said Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer of comments Chinese President Xi Jinping made to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. "It was as if he was delivering a message and dispensing with Trudeau."  3:17


  • This story has been updated to clarify the NDP position on Canada’s relations with China.


Peter Zimonjic
Senior writer

Peter Zimonjic is a senior writer for CBC News. He has worked as a reporter and columnist in London, England, for the Daily Mail, Sunday Times and Daily Telegraph and in Canada for Sun Media and the Ottawa Citizen. He is the author of Into The Darkness: An Account of 7/7, published by Random House.