Canada's Trudeau says won't back down in dispute with China, urges restraint in Hong Kong

 Canadas Trudeau says wont back down in dispute with China, urges restraint in Hong Kong

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday said he would not escalate a deepening trade and diplomatic dispute with China but added that his government had no intention of backing down as it defended its interests.

Speaking to an audience in Montreal just days after Beijing warned Ottawa not to meddle in Hong Kong's affairs, Trudeau also repeated his call for restraint and respect for human rights as protests sweep the former British colony.

China has detained two Canadian citizens and halted imports of canola seed and meat products from Canada since Vancouver police detained a senior Huawei Technologies Co Ltd executive [HWT.UL] on a U.S. arrest warrant last December.

"We must recognise that China is a growing power and increasingly assertive towards its place in the international order. But make no mistake - we will always defend Canadians and Canadian interests," Trudeau said.

"We have a long history of dealing directly and successfully with larger partners. We do not escalate, but we also don't back down," he added.

Trudeau, whose Liberal Party faces a federal election in October, is under pressure from the official opposition Conservative Party to take a tougher line on China.

The Conservatives, tied in the polls with the Liberals, want Trudeau to withdraw from the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, increase inspections on all Chinese imports and examine the possibility of retaliatory tariffs.

Government officials though say they do not want to do anything that could harm the two detainees.

Trudeau said Canada was paying close attention to events in Hong Kong, which is home to 300,000 Canadian citizens.

"We have emphasized the need to exercise restraint and reject violence. Now is the time to engage in dialogue and respect fundamental freedoms, including the right to peaceful assembly," he said.

China on Sunday warned Ottawa to stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs a day after Canada issued a joint statement with the European Union in defence of the "fundamental right of assembly" for Hong Kong citizens.

The Chinese embassy in Ottawa was not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Chris Reese and Tom Brown)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date: Aug 22, 2019 01:12:36 IST