A Chinese spokesperson on Thursday accused Canada of acting in a “condescending manner” following a testy exchange between President Xi Jinping and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that underscores the depths to which the bilateral relationship has fallen.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning’s comments came after Xi chastised Trudeau at the G-20 summit on Wednesday over media reports on an earlier meeting during which Trudeau expressed concern about Chinese interference in Canada’s internal affairs. The apparently spontaneous exchange with a translator present was captured on video.
Mao denied China had ever interfered in the internal affairs of other nations and said Canada was responsible for the downturn in ties.
“Canada should take concrete actions to create conditions for the improvement of China-Canada relations,” she said at a daily briefing. The conversation was “quite normal and should not be interpreted as President Xi criticizing or blaming anyone.”
Mao added that there had been a clear lack of respect from the Canadian side.
“China has no problem at all with having a candid dialogue with other countries,” she said. “But we hope such a candid dialogue will be based on equal treatment and mutual respect, rather than criticizing the other in a condescending manner.”
In his comments to Trudeau, Xi said, “Everything we discussed has been leaked to the paper; that’s not appropriate.”
“And that’s not … the way the conversation was conducted, if there is sincerity on your part,” Xi said, at which point Trudeau interrupted and stepped toward Xi.
“In Canada, we believe in free and open and frank dialogue and that is what we will continue to have,” Trudeau said. “We will continue to look to work constructively together, but there will be things we will disagree on.”
“Let’s create the conditions first,” Xi responded. The two shook hands after the brief encounter.
Mao said nothing Xi said should be interpreted as a threat.
“As you can see from the video, I think it is quite normal for the two heads of state to have a brief conversation during the G-20 summit. The two sides were just stating their respective positions,” she said.
Trudeau first spoke with Xi at the G-20 last Tuesday. A senior Canadian government official said the two spoke about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, North Korea and climate change, and that Trudeau also raised “our serious concerns around interference activities in Canada.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.
Asked later at a news conference about the confrontation, Trudeau said, “not every conversation is always going to be easy, but it’s extremely important that we continue to stand up for the things that are important for Canadians.”
Foreign Minister Melanie Joly also said she discussed Chinese interference with her Chinese counterpart at the G-20.
Joly remarked last week that China is an increasingly disruptive global power and warned businesses against deepening their ties, saying there were “geopolitical risks.”
China-Canada ties nosedived after China jailed two Canadians shortly after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies and the daughter of the company’s founder, on a U.S. extradition request in December 2018.
They were sent back to Canada last year, the same day Meng returned to China after reaching a deal with U.S. authorities in her case, leading many to label China’s action “hostage politics.”
Canada has banned wireless carriers from installing Huawei equipment in its high-speed 5G networks, joining allies in shunning the company that has close links with the ruling Communist Party and its military wing, the People’s Liberation Army. China has described the charges against Huawei and Meng as a politically motivated attempt to hold back China’s economic and technological development.
More recently, Canadian police charged a Hydro-Quebec employee on Monday with espionage for allegedly sending trade secrets to China.
Earlier this month, Canadian public broadcaster CBC closed its China bureau after applications to base a new reporter in Beijing were met with what it called “monthslong silence from Chinese officials.”
The apparently unscripted remarks from Xi marked a rare display of public candor from the usually highly composed veteran politician. Known as an ardent nationalist who has vowed to always put China’s interests first, Xi recently had himself granted a third five-year term as leader of the ruling Communist Party, while packing top bodies with loyalists.
In one earlier such incident during a visit to Mexico in 2009 while serving as vice president, China told Chinese students that, “There are a few foreigners, with full bellies, who have nothing better to do than try to point fingers at our country.”
“China does not export revolution, hunger or poverty. Nor does China cause you headaches. Just what else do you want?,” Xi said in remarks caught on camera
UPEI students offered $1,500 to leave residence during Canada Games – CBC.ca
Some UPEI students are earning extra money during the mid-semester break this year, simply by packing up and leaving campus.
The 2023 Canada Winter Games Host Society offered $1,500 each to students living in Andrew Hall if they give up their residence rooms to make space for arriving athletes.
The students have to leave a few days before the break starts, on Feb. 17, and can return March 7. They also had to give up their meal plan for the duration.
Many athletes are staying at UPEI’s new 260-bed residence, built to meet accommodation requirements for the Games’ temporary athlete village.
But Wayne Carew, chair of the Games, said there are 120 more athletes coming than originally planned.
“We ended up getting 44 rooms [in Andrew Hall] and that’s great,” said Carew.
He said the athletes staying at UPEI “are going to have a wild experience on the campus of the beautiful University of Prince Edward Island.”
Carew said the costs of doing this are a “lot cheaper” than arranging accommodations elsewhere. But he said the main reason is to provide all athletes the same, “once-in-a-lifetime” experience.
“Where they live, the food and the camaraderie and the experience of a lifetime: that’s what they’ll remember in 20 years’ time about P.E.I.,” he said.
‘Pretty good deal’
Some students were eager to take the organizers up on their offer.
“I’m going away to Florida during the two-week break anyways. So I was like, ‘May as well let them use my room then,'” said Hannah Somers.
“It’s $1,500. Pretty nice,” said Benji Dueck, who agreed to vacate the room with his roommate. “We’re moving out, living with a friend in the city. So, sounds like a pretty good deal to me.”
As part of the agreement, the students had to clear out their rooms. Canada Games organizers made arrangements so students could store their belongings.
But not all students thought it was a good deal.
“I’m not giving up my spot in Andrew Hall for $1,500,” said Maria de Torres. “It’s just too hard to pack up. It’s just too hectic. And since I’m an international student, I got a lot [of things] right now.”
Shelby Dyment is also staying in Andrew Hall. Dyment said she and her roommate are working as residence life assistants during the mid-semester break and she’s also doing directed study, so she has to stay on campus.
“There’s a lot of people doing it. It’s just for our situation it just wasn’t working for what we were doing,” she said.
In a statement, UPEI said that enough students had accepted the offer to host all the athletes.
It said the host society made all the arrangements with the students, including paying for their incentives and arranging for storage.
Organizers expect about 3,600 athletes, coaches and officials to participate in the Games. The event will run from Feb. 18 to March 5.
Germany won't be a 'party to the war' amid tanks exports to Ukraine: Ambassador – CTV News
The German ambassador to Canada says Germany will not become “a party to the conflict” in Ukraine, despite it and several other countries announcing they’ll answer President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s pleas for tanks, possibly increasing the risk of Russian escalation.
Sabine Sparwasser said it’s a “real priority” for Germany to support Ukraine, but that it’s important to be in “lockstep” coordination with other allied countries.
“There is a clear line for Germany,” she told CTV’s Question Period host Vassy Kapelos, in an interview airing Sunday. “We do want not want to be a party to the conflict.”
“We want to support, we want to do everything we can, but we, and NATO, do not want to be a party to the war,” she also said. “That’s I think, the line we’re trying to follow.”
Defence Minister Anita Anand announced this week Canada will send four Leopard 2 battle tanks — with the possibility of more in the future — to Ukraine, along with Canadian Armed Forces members to train Ukrainian soldiers on how to use them.
Canada first needed permission from Berlin to re-export any of its 82 German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. After a meeting of 50 defence leaders in Germany earlier this month, it was unclear whether Germany would give the green light.
But following what German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called “intensive consultations,” Germany announced on Jan. 25 it would send tanks to Ukraine, and the following day, Canada followed suit. It is now joining several other countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Poland, which are sending several dozen tanks to Ukraine.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said this week the tanks would allow Ukraine to “significantly strengthen their combat capabilities.”
“It demonstrates also the unit and the resolve of NATO allies in partners in providing support to Ukraine,” he said.
Meanwhile Sparwasser said Germany is “walking that fine line” of avoiding steps that could prompt escalation from Russia, while supporting Ukraine, and staying out of the war themselves.
“I think it’s very important to see that Germany is very determined and has a real priority in supporting Ukraine in its struggle for freedom and sovereignty,” Sparwasser said. “But we also put a high priority on going it together with our friends and allies.”
Sparwasser said despite warnings from Russia that sending tanks to Ukraine will cause an escalation, Germany is within international law — specifically Article 51 of the United Nations Charter — to provide support to Ukraine.
“Ukraine is under attack has the right to self defence, and other nations can come in and provide Ukraine with the means to defend itself,” Sparwasser said. “So in international law terms, this is a very clear cut case.”
She added that considering “Russia doesn’t respect international law,” it’s a more impactful deterrent to Russia, ahead of an expected spring offensive, to see several countries come together in support of Ukraine.
With files from the Associated Press
COVID: Canada retaining Evusheld – CTV News
While Health Canada says it is “aware” of the U.S. decision to withdraw the emergency use of Evusheld, a drug by AstraZeneca used to help prevent COVID-19 infection— the agency is maintaining its approval, citing the differences in variant circulation between Canada and the U.S.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Jan. 26 that its emergency use authorization of the drug was pulled due to its inefficacy in treating “certain” COVID-19 variants.
The FDA stated in a release on its website that as the XBB.1.5. variant, nicknamed “Kraken”, is making up the majority of cases in the country, the use of Evusheld is “not expected to provide protection” and therefore not worth exposing the public to possible side effects of the drug, like allergic reactions.
In an email to CTVNews.ca, Health Canada said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration pulled the drug as the main variant of concern in the U.S. is XBB.1.5.
“Dominant variants in the [U.S.] may be different from those circulating in Canada,” the federal agency said in an email. “The most recent epidemiological data in Canada (as of January 1, 2023) indicate that BA.5 (Omicron) subvariants continue to account for more than 89 per cent of reported cases.”
On Jan. 6 the FDA said in press release that certain variants are not neutralized by Evusheld and cautioned people who are exposed to XBB.1.5. On Jan. 26, the FDA then updated its website by saying it would be limiting the use of Evusheld.
“Evusheld is not currently authorized for use in the U.S. until further notice by the Agency,” the FDA website states.
On Jan. 17, Health Canada issued a “risk communication” on Evusheld, explaining how it may not be effective against certain Omicron subvariants when used as a preventative measure or treatment for COVID-19.
“Decisions regarding the use of EVUSHELD should take into consideration what is known about the characteristics of the circulating COVID-19 variants, including geographical prevalence and individual exposure,” Health Canada said in an email.
Health Canada says Evusheld does neutralize against Omicron subvariant BA.2, which according to the agency, is the dominant variant in many communities in Canada.
The drug was introduced for prevention measures specifically for people who have weaker immune systems and are unlikely to be protected by a COVID-19 vaccine. It can only be given to people 12 years and older.
“EVUSHELD is not a substitute for vaccination in individuals for whom COVID-19 vaccination is recommended,” the agency’s website reads.
Health Canada says no drug, including Evusheld, is a substitute for vaccination.
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