China was exposed as the world’s bully during Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s interactions with Canadian and British counterparts at the G-20 summit in Indonesia.
In an opinion article published on November 18, the Washington Examiner pointed to two incidents at the summit to underline Xi’s regime’s arrogant and authoritarian character.
The first incident occurred when Xi scolded Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday, November 16.
In their rare face-to-face encounter, Trudeau was publicly dressed down by Xi in front of Canadian journalists.
During their tense exchange, Xi accused Trudeau of inconsiderate diplomacy for
detailing their conservations to the media.
On Tuesday, Trudeau used a meeting with Xi to complain about China’s interference in Canada’s 2019 elections, and he made his displeasure known publicly.
The Chinese leader didn’t like that the media found out about this.
When the two confronted each other on Wednesday, Xi told Trudeau via a translator: “Everything we discussed was then leaked to the [newspapers]. That’s not appropriate. And that’s not the way the conversation was conducted.”
Xi added: “If there is sincerity, we can communicate well with mutual respect.”
Xi further warned Trudeau in Mandarin, “We should have conversations in a respectful way. Otherwise, the results can’t be predicted.”
But this warning was not delivered to Trudeau as he politely interrupted the translator to defend himself.
Trudeau said: “In Canada, we believe in free and open and frank dialogue and that is what we will continue to have.”
Trudeau said that China and Canada would continue to look to work constructively together but noted that there would be disagreements.
Xi then interrupted Trudeau: “Let’s create the conditions first.”
The two shook hands, and Xi promptly walked off.
According to the Washington Examiner, their exchange shows China’s arrogance. China has no qualms about making demands of others, but Beijing is deeply sensitive to foreign criticism.
Indeed, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) even demands that Western officials actively spread pro-China propaganda to their domestic populations. In July,
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi insisted that Australia “stick to building positive and pragmatic social foundations and public support.”
As with the Trudeau exchange, it’s proof of communist China’s zero-sum approach to foreign policy.
The second incident occurred when the Chinese leader interacted with Britain’s new Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, on Wednesday, November 16.
According to the Washington Examiner, Xi Jinping and Rishi Sunak had agreed to hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit.
Sunak sought to lay positive foundations for that meeting with conciliatory rhetoric toward China. One would have expected Xi to use the meeting to draw the U.S.’s closest ally away from Washington’s China policy.
However, China canceled the meeting and humiliated Sunak by describing why.
The CCP’s propaganda outlet Global Times explained: “Chinese experts believe that it is possible that the cancellation is a way for China to express its strong dissatisfaction with Britain’s recent provocations on the Taiwan question.”
The Global Times said China is furious over Sunak’s refusal to rule out sending arms to Taiwan.
The Times wrote: “If these nations want to maintain their communication with China, they should know that the prerequisite is that they should never tread on China’s red line issue—the Taiwan question. … It seems that Sunak’s trick of softening his stance toward China didn’t work.”
The Washington Examiner commented that Xi’s attempt to cancel Trudeau and Sunak fits his preferred diplomatic strategy of China’s shooting itself in the foot.
These incidents could make Xi look strong at home, which is an obsession for the Chinese leader.
However, they will also aggravate the British and Canadian governments and their respective populations. Unlike in China, those politicians in the Western governments rely on the favor of their people to retain power.
But if China’s ultimate diplomatic intent is to establish a more favorable space for its geopolitical agenda, Xi’s shoddy behavior at the G-20 event is likely to have the opposite effect.