Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says growing trade tensions with China will be a key topic in talks with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House Thursday.
Mr. Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa on Wednesday that he and Mr. Trump will be focusing on the upcoming G20 summit in Japan next week, where Mr. Trump is scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Relations between the United States and China have been strained over a tit-for-tat tariff war and the Trump administration’s decision to blacklist Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies.
Canada has also been hit hard by Chinese trade barriers and the jailing of two Canadians, ostensibly in retaliation for the December arrest in Vancouver of senior Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of the company’s founder – a friend of Mr. Xi.
“We’re obviously going to have a big G20 coming up, and it’s an opportunity for us to sit down and talk about China, talk about trade, talk about all the issues that are going to be discussed – the global issues that will be discussed at the G20 next week,” Mr. Trudeau said.
The Prime Minister has said he also hopes to meet with Mr. Xi in Japan to discuss China’s detention of the two Canadians – Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor – and its punishing trade blockage of Canadian farm products.
Conservative foreign affairs critic Erin O’Toole said the Prime Minister must get a clear commitment from Mr. Trump that he will raise the Canada-China dispute directly with Mr. Xi.
“To be able to get a firm commitment from the U.S. President, not just that the U.S. acknowledge the poor treatment of our citizens or they acknowledge problems, a clear commitment that the U.S. President will try and get the Chinese at least to the negotiating table, so we can start stopping this crisis from spiralling, more citizens affected, more sectors affected,” he said.
There has been no word on whether Mr. Xi will agree to meet with Mr. Trudeau. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has refused to take his calls, and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has been unable to reach her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi.
China has demanded that Ms. Meng, who is under house arrest in Vancouver, be allowed to leave for home as a precondition of normalizing diplomatic relations.
China was furious after Canada arrested Ms. Meng at the request of the U.S. on allegations of fraud relating to U.S. sanctions against Iran. Beijing argued that Ottawa was helping the U.S. in its trade dispute with China.
In the months that followed, China began banning and restricting the import of significant Canadian commodities such as canola and beef, causing great pain to Canadian farmers.
“We’re going to be talking about the challenge that China poses to the global trading system, to our own countries and our own economies, and we’re going to make sure that we can work together to support each other and move forward in the right way, ” Mr. Trudeau said.
In the White House talks, the two leaders will also discuss the ratification of the new Canada-U.S.-Mexico trade deal, which is stalled in the U.S. Congress.
Canada is timing its ratification of the new treaty to coincide with that of the United States and will recall Parliament during the summer recess if necessary.
“There’ll be a big conversation about the path of ratification of the new NAFTA, and we’re going to make sure that we’re keeping in step with them,” Mr. Trudeau said. “We have an ability to recall Parliament if we need to. We will also make sure that we’re monitoring the pace at which the Americans are ratifying the process.”
Mr. Trudeau travels to Washington Wednesday evening and will meet with Mr. Trump Thursday in the Oval Office for an hour and a half, including a lunch. He will also sit down for separate meetings with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
It is not known if the two leaders will discuss the Trump administration’s campaign to convince its allies to ban Huawei from supplying gear for next-generation 5G wireless networks.
In May, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence came to Ottawa and made a personal appeal to Mr. Trudeau to bar Huawei, saying the Chinese telecom giant represents a national-security risk to Western countries.
It marked the highest-level U.S. request of Canada since the Trump administration and bipartisan members of Congress began actively lobbying allies last year to prohibit their domestic telecoms from installing Huawei’s 5G technology.
Mr. Pence said the fact that companies in China are required by law to conduct espionage at the request of the country’s security services gives Beijing access to the intelligence they collect.
Mr. Trudeau has remained non-committal on Huawei, saying the government is conducting a cybersecurity review.