For the first time in nearly five years, one of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s top cabinet ministers is headed to China for an official visit. 

Recent reports indicate that Liberal Environment Minister Stephen Guilbeault will be attending the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCIED) to shore up support from Beijing to tackle global climate goals. 

According to Radio-Canada, Guilbeault will attend the conference from Aug. 28 to Aug. 30. 

“I think it’s worth it for me to go there, to advance this collaboration on the climate, on biodiversity, and perhaps also to start rebuilding bridges with China at the diplomatic level,” Guilbeault told the state broadcaster. 

“The Chinese minister and I have developed this collaboration where we are able to sit down at a table despite our differences and talk about difficult subjects.”

Guilbeault was invited to attend directly by China’s Minister of Ecology and Environment Huang Runqiu. 

“If we organized a trade mission to China, I’m not sure it would work. People wouldn’t understand why we’re doing this,” said Guilbeault. 

“But in light of the summer we’re having, with record wildfires and record flooding, I think there’s a much bigger awakening that something needs to be done about climate change.”

The last time top Canadian elected officials visited China was in 2018.

Soon after, Canadian authorities arrested Huawei CFO and Chinese heiress Meng Wanzhou, prompting Beijing to hit back with the detainment of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig. 

Today tensions between Canada and China remain high despite having reached a diplomatic solution, allowing the two Michaels to return to Canada.

Trudeau is being pressured by the opposition parties to call a public inquiry into allegations that China interfered in past Canadian elections and continues to attempt to assert influence within Canada. 

Recently, China excluded Canada from a list of approved country destinations for Chinese travel tour groups as a result of a continued diplomatic freeze between the two nations.