The recent meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit saw Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chinese President Xi Jinping exchange few words beyond a formal greeting as relations between the two countries remain in a diplomatic chill.

Throughout the summit, U.S. President Joe Biden engaged in a substantial dialogue with Xi.

Their discussions covered a range of critical topics, including military communication and cracking down on the trafficking of fentanyl – a problem in which China plays a central role. 

In comparison, the interaction between Trudeau and Xi was limited to a brief exchange of pleasantries on Thursday.

The extended meeting between the U.S and China followed a year marked by escalating tensions between the two superpowers. 

The relationship became further strained after former House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in 2022, and with the revelation of a Chinese surveillance balloon spotted over North America during the summer things became even more tense.

Similarly, Canada’s and China’s relations have not been without their challenges over the years. 

China’s detainment of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, ostensibly in retaliation for Canada’s compliance with the U.S. request to detain Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou pending extradition plunged relations between the two countries into chaos. 

Additionally, China has imposed sanctions on Canadian imports of critical products including canola and meats. 

During the G20 summit in Bali last year, Chinese President Xi accused Prime Minister Trudeau of inappropriate behavior, alleging that details of their conversation were leaked to the media. 

The exchange took place in a public space, with Xi expressing dissatisfaction over the leaked information. Trudeau, while acknowledging disagreements, emphasized the importance of open dialogue.

“Everything we discuss has been leaked to the paper; that’s not appropriate. That’s not … the way the conversation was conducted. If there is sincerity on your part, “ said Xi. 

“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,” replied Trudeau.