After a tough G20 meeting, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived in Indonesia for the APEC summit. Trudeau received some terse words from the Chinese president after Canada shared a summary of the two leaders’ bilateral meeting with media networks.
This comes as Trudeau and his ministers work ardently to build closer ties with Southeast Asian nations to counter-balance the regional power held by China.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s tour of Southeast Asia includes a brief stop in Bangkok, another effort to signal that Canada is serious in its desire to forge closer ties with the region.
During the two-day visit to Thailand, Trudeau will participate in the meeting of leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a group of 21 economies from both sides of the Pacific that are working together to remove barriers to trade.
Rather than listing member countries, the APEC group consists of 21 economies that include the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, which is under Chinese control, and Taiwan, which some states, including China, do not recognize as a country.
Trudeau is attending the APEC leaders’ meeting at a time when his Liberal government is working to roll out a long-promised Indo-Pacific Strategy to forge closer ties with countries in the region.
On Tuesday, Trudeau met with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at the ornate government headquarters in Bangkok.
Trudeau also signed a statement with Chilean President Gabriel Boric aimed at allaying concerns about investor disputes that have prevented the South American country from ratifying a transcontinental trade deal.
The Liberals released this statement after Friday’s meetings, and International Trade Minister Mary Ng said the main purpose of the visit is to affirm Canada’s commitment to the region.
Mr. Trudeau’s itinerary suggests a healthy dose of handshakes and casual conversation, with events such as the “leaders’ informal dialogue with guests” and a “working lunch” for the leaders.
In light of Canada’s view of China as a threat to global stability, part of Canada’s strategy is to build trade ties in the region with rising, like-minded countries.
Minister Ng said Beijing’s unpredictability is a big reason why she is trying to forge closer ties with other Asian economies.
“Our exporters and businesses depend on the strength of a rules-based trading system,” she said.
As APEC focuses on sharing voluntary approaches to facilitate trade, the leaders’ summit could be hampered by their divergent views on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s growing assertiveness.