Chinese minister ticks off Canadian journalist

Canada's Foreign Minister Stephane Dion (right) shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at the start of a meeting in Ottawa, Canada, on June 1, 2016.
Canada's Foreign Minister Stephane Dion (right) shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at the start of a meeting in Ottawa, Canada, on June 1, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

OTTAWA • China's foreign minister berated a Canadian journalist on Wednesday for questioning Beijing's human rights record, saying she had "no right to speak" about the issue.

The remarks by Mr Wang Yi came after the reporter asked Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion about what was being done to push China on human rights and its holding of a Canadian man on espionage charges. "Your question is full of prejudice and arrogance," Mr Wang told a press briefing in Ottawa where he stood beside Mr Dion. "This is totally unacceptable."

According to a video posted online by Canadian broadcaster CBC, he added: "The people that know the most about human rights in China is not you, it's only the Chinese people. You don't have the right to speak. Don't ask these kinds of irresponsible questions again."

China often condemns other countries for criticising its record on human rights, but usually refrains from doing so in such direct terms at press conferences overseas. In contrast, Chinese President Xi Jinping last year admitted the country had "room for improvement" on human rights after being asked a similar question by a British journalist while on a visit to London.

Mr Wang's Canadian visit - where he also met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau - was portrayed in local media as an attempt to improve relations as Ottawa presses for a free trade deal with the world's second-largest economy.

Ties have been strained by the detention of Canadian citizen Kevin Garratt in 2014 on espionage charges.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 03, 2016, with the headline 'Chinese minister ticks off Canadian journalist'. Print Edition | Subscribe