Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Will Justin Trudeau's Trip to Japan Cool Canada's Relations with China?

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Will Justin Trudeau's Trip to Japan Cool Canada's Relations with China?

Article excerpt

Will Trudeau's trip to Japan cool China bond?

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SHIMA, Japan - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will push ahead with efforts to expand Canada's relationship with China, though he might find a cooler reception from the Chinese government following his visit this week to its regional rival, Japan.

Trudeau held bilateral talks this week with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, a couple of days before the start of the G7 summit in Shima, Japan.

The meeting with Japan was Trudeau's first in Asia since taking office last fall and reflects the priority the new government has placed on expanding Asian ties.

It remains to be seen whether China has concerns with Trudeau's decision -- but Beijing has made no secret about its unhappiness with the G7 meeting in Japan and the group's public worry about rising tensions in the South China Sea.

At the end of Trudeau's meeting with Abe on Tuesday, the Japanese leader told reporters that he and Trudeau "share serious concern" over the ongoing territorial dispute involving China in the South China Sea.

Several governments in the region oppose Chinese claims in that area, while Japan rejects the country's claims in the East China Sea. The competing claims are important because the disputed waters include key shipping lanes.

"On South China Sea, we share serious concern over unilateral actions which heighten tension, including large-scale reclamation, building of outposts and military usage thereof," Abe said through an interpreter, with Trudeau standing at his side.

"We agreed to work closely to secure free and safe seas based on the rule of law."

Abe's remark appeared stronger than what Canada has said on the issue in the past. But following Abe's statement, Trudeau's office insisted Canada's position hadn't budged.

The topic could become delicate for Canada because, like many countries, it has been trying to expand its relationship with China's massive economy through investment and, potentially, free trade.

Trudeau was asked Friday whether he thought the Chinese government might feel shunned by Canada for choosing Japan for its first Asian bilateral visit and for holding the event with Abe. …

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