TORONTO – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday his government has expressed its dissatisfaction with China after the country’s foreign minister berated a Canadian journalist this week for asking a question about China’s human rights record.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said it was “irresponsible” of the reporter to ask about human rights and appeared visibly angry as he delivered the scolding in the lobby of Global Affairs headquarters at a joint news conference with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion on Wednesday. Wang said the human rights question was “full of prejudice” about China and “totally unacceptable.”
Wang also asked the reporter if she’d ever been to China. “Don’t ask questions in such an irresponsible manner,” he said.
The question from the journalist from the web outlet IPolitics was agreed to by a number of journalists representing several news organizations at the event.
Trudeau said Friday both Dion and officials from Global Affairs “have expressed our dissatisfaction to both the Chinese foreign minister and to the ambassador of China to Canada — our dissatisfaction with the way our journalists were treated.”
“Freedom of the press is extremely important to me,” Trudeau said. “We know that the job of the media is to ask tough questions.”
Dion didn’t say anything about Wang’s outburst at the news conference on Wednesday and opposition parties have criticized him for it.
Earlier, in response to the question that offended his counterpart, Dion said he brought up the jailing of a Canadian, Kevin Garratt, who is charged with espionage in China.
Garratt was indicted by prosecutors in Dandong, a city on the North Korean border where he and his wife ran a popular coffee shop and conducted Christian aid work for North Koreans. He and his wife Julia were arrested in August 2014 by the state security bureau. His wife was later released on bail.