G20: Canada pushes to further isolate Russia, silent on meeting China's Xi

The federal government would not say whether it asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is pressing G20 leaders to further isolate Russia.

“Russia's brutal war in Ukraine created a food and energy crisis. It disrupts supply chains and increases the cost of living," Trudeau told business leaders in a speech Monday in Bali, Indonesia.

"Families worry that they won't be able to put food on the table, or that they won't be able to heat their house during the winter months."

Trudeau is in Indonesia for meetings with leaders of the world's 20 largest economies. That includes Xi, who is making his first trip outside of China since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Xi met Monday with US President Joe Biden, and has announced plans to meet French President Emmanuel Macron.

China's foreign ministry said that between the G20 summit and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders' meeting in Thailand, Xi would also meet Senegalese and Argentinian leaders "among other things, upon request."

Trudeau will be at both summits, but when asked on Sunday and Monday, Trudeau and Secretary of State Melanie Joly would not say if they wanted to meet Xi.

Instead, Joly said he would have the opportunity to talk to China's foreign minister, Wang Yi, as he did in July.

"It is important for Canada to continue to have open channels with China, but at the same time, our stance is clear," he said Monday.

Last week, Joly said China was a threat to global stability by undermining human rights and trade rules. "We will cooperate with China when we have to," he said.

The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa responded that the speech harmed Canadian interests by "creating divisions and inflaming confrontation in the region."

Canada's stance on Russia is also at odds with some of the other G20 nations, who want to maintain ties despite the invasion of Ukraine. In recent months, China, India and South Africa have abstained from UN resolutions condemning Russia.

"My focus is making sure that the world comes together to reinforce that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin made a very bad choice when he decided to attack a peaceful neighbor," Trudeau said Sunday.

As host of the summit, Indonesia has called on leaders to focus on shoring up the health system and improving food and energy security, and has stressed the importance of focusing on consensus over division.

Indonesia has reportedly asked G20 nations vocally opposed to Putin to tone down his rhetoric in order to forge consensus on other issues.

“Indonesia is between a rock and a hard place,” said Joly.

“Canada's job is to always make sure that we can bring countries along; that we can find a way to overcome even difficult problems, and that is why we continue to have many conversations with Indonesia.”

On Monday, he announced $500 million for Ukraine's military, including surveillance and communications equipment, as well as fuel and medical supplies.

Half a billion dollars is double the amount Ottawa announced in its budget last spring.

"Our goal is to ensure that troops in Ukraine on the ground have access to additional military support immediately, and we will have more details to provide in the coming days and weeks," Joly said.

He also announced new sanctions against 23 Russians who Joly said had violated the human rights of opposition leaders.

The G20 summit comes as Canadian industry leaders seek deeper ties with Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country which has a booming economy.

Canada and Indonesia have conducted two rounds of negotiations for a trade deal that aims to increase annual bilateral trade by $3.5 billion.

In recent years, the exchange has been roughly evenly split, with Canada selling mostly grain, fertilisers, wood pulp and oilseeds, and buying rubber, electrical equipment and apparel from Indonesia.

Relations between Ottawa and Jakarta have been relatively smooth, apart from disputes in the 1990s over human rights and unrest in East Timor. Canada played a key role in Indonesia securing its independence from the Netherlands in 1949, with Ottawa's ambassador to the United Nations, General Andrew McNaughton, helping to remove the impasse in negotiations.

Indonesia's poverty rate has fallen to 9.78 percent in 2020 from a quarter of the population at the turn of the millennium. Nearly two-thirds of the country's roughly 280 million people are of working age.

But COVID-19 is slowing the economic boom and climate change is threatening the world's largest archipelago, with at least a third of its population at risk of natural disasters.

Indonesia is a major emitter of greenhouse gases, and Canada has been pushing the government to better conserve its tropical forests and peatlands. Ottawa argues that Indonesia's pursuit of economic development and coal burning threatens its vast biodiversity.

While in Cambodia, Trudeau made announcements aimed at forging deeper ties with Southeast Asia as a counterbalance to China.

The prime minister's plane left Cambodia an hour and a half late on Monday, which his office said was caused by a problem clearing the flight path. The delay postponed a planned meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Trudeau did meet Monday with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and will also meet newly minted Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

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