“I think you have to talk fully and frankly about human rights and engage, talk about the challenges” with Beijing, the Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday at a luncheon hosted by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

He was responding to questions as to whether it would be difficult to raise topics such as human rights with China whilst signing economic deals with them.

Justin Trudeau. Photo: Stanley Leung, HKFP.

See also: Put human rights first, Canadian groups urge PM during G20 China trip

“I raised a range [of issues] from consular cases to rule of law and governance and corruption” he said, “but [I] also talked about the fact that Canada is not immune to criticisms on human rights either.”

Justin Trudeau, in front of an audience at the luncheon. Photo: Stanley Leung, HKFP.

Speaking about tradeoffs in raising such topics, Trudeau said: “I don’t think you have to choose, I think you have to be very upfront and frank about doing that, in a thoughtful and respectful way, but in a constructive way.”

See also: UN expert slams Chinese human rights record amid crackdown on lawyers, activists, NGOs

He also said that, for there to be a strong relationship between Canada and China, it requires a “stable, predictable, deeper relationship.”

Justin Trudeau with Gregory So, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development.

Working with ‘whoever gets elected’

In response to a question about Hong Kong’s Legislative Council elections, which saw three localists elected, Trudeau said that “Canada will work with whoever gets elected and forms government in foreign jurisdictions.”

Trudeau was honouring Canadian soldiers who had fought to defend Hong Kong in the Second World War earlier in the day. He also met with business tycoon Li Ka-shing.

Trudeau also spoke with the Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying at the Government House on the same day.

Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.