December 05, 2017
Prime minister was under pressure to press China’s leadership on imprisoned Canadians and human rights during his trade-focused trip.



BEIJING—Canada’s push to launch formal trade talks with China did not stop Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from raising a host of human rights concerns with the country’s No. 2 leader, something he said he would do again when he met with the regime’s President Xi Jinping Tuesday night.
Over the course of a bilateral exchange with Premier Li Keqiang and subsequent dinner on Monday, Trudeau said he voiced Canada’s opposition to the death penalty and pressed Li on the importance of gaining access to Canadian citizens who face “difficulty in legal situations.”

Trudeau says he raised human rights, death penalty, in meeting with Chinese premier

The prime minister has been under pressure from human rights campaigners to push China’s senior-most leaders on the treatment of at least three Canadians who jailed in the country. His apparent opposition to China’s use of the death penalty comes after Premier Li defended the practice during his visit to Ottawa last year.
Trudeau told reporters at a press conference Tuesday afternoon that his Liberal government in Ottawa can have such discussions with China because of its push for deeper links with the authoritarian state.
“We can have strong and frank discussions about issues that we see differently without endangering the positive relationship we have,” Trudeau said.
“Whenever I meet with world leaders, I bring up the issues of human rights. This is no exception. I brought them up last night — human rights and consular cases with Premier Li — and I will certainly be addressing those issues with President Xi.”
The prime minister later met with Xi at an official guesthouse for a private dinner Tuesday evening. There was no immediate word on what was discussed during the meal, which featured an array of dishes including foie gras-fried steak and abalone with oyster sauce.
Before their meal, the leaders shook hands and spoke briefly in front of reporters.
“I know that, as we look to building a better future for the entire world, the friendship between Canada and China will play an important role in setting the tone and the approach that will characterize the 21st century,” Trudeau told Xi.
During his press conference earlier in the day, Trudeau gave no indication that any of the jailed Canadians were set to be released, as was the case last year with Kevin Garratt, a pastor from British Columbia who was deported from China in early 2016, after spending two years in prison on spying charges.



Of the Canadians known to be in Chinese jails, Huseyin Celil has been imprisoned the longest. The Uighur man from western China was arrested on terrorism charges in 2006 and has been imprisoned ever since.
Sun Qian, a Falun Gong practitioner and Canadian businesswoman, was detained earlier this year, while B.C. wine seller John Chang was charged with smuggling his products into China and has been locked up since early 2016.
Since taking power and trumpeting its intention to improve relations with China, the Trudeau government has made the case that closer ties would make it easier to have “frank” discussions on matters of human rights and consular cases.
Speaking Monday after his meeting with Trudeau, Premier Li said they discussed human rights and the rule of law, and that it was “only natural that we don’t see eye-to-eye” on such issues. He said the countries were entering a “golden era” in their relationship, pursuing economic ties, promoting tourism and striking agreements to work together on climate change and other issues.
“We see tremendous potential in such cooperation,” Li said.
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