China Is Open to Contact, Talks with Canada, Foreign Minister Says

Hanna Johre/NTB/via REUTERS
Canada’s Foreign Minister Melanie Joly arrives at Oslo City Hall during NATO’s informal meeting of foreign ministers in Oslo, Norway June 1, 2023.

BEIJING, Jan 12 (Reuters) – China and Canada want to maintain contacts to bolster what Beijing called the “current difficult situation” in bilateral relations, the two governments said after talks between their foreign ministers.

Relations were strained for most of 2023, underscored by accusations from Canada that China was meddling in its elections, a claim China repeatedly denied.

“The fundamental reason why China-Canada relations have fallen into a low point in recent years is that there has been a serious deviation in Canada’s perception of China,” Wang Yi told Melanie Joly in a phone call, China’s foreign ministry said in a statement late on Thursday.

“China is open to contacts and talks,” Wang said. “The two sides should respect each other, engage in dialogue on an equal footing, enhance trust and dispel doubts.”

Joly offered priorities for collaboration, including fighting climate change and deepening economic and people-to-people ties, Ottawa’s Global Affairs Canada department said in a statement.

It said Joly and Wang highlighted that despite recent “challenges” in bilateral ties, it was important to keep communication lines open.

Beijing expelled a Canadian diplomat in May after Ottawa told a Toronto-based Chinese diplomat to leave, escalating tensions. China lodged a complaint in October, saying a Canadian military plane had violated China’s sovereignty and national security.

Wang told Joly that China hopes Canada “will interpret China’s domestic and foreign policies objectively, rationally and correctly.”

Canada said both sides shared views on a range of global and regional issues, including the Israel-Hamas conflict, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and ongoing “challenges and opportunities” in the Indo-Pacific region.