June 5, 2016 11:09 am

Chinese may not care Canadians offended by minister’s outburst: ex-diplomat

Former diplomat Colin Robertson and Senator Jim Munson join Tom Clark for a discussion on the visit to Canada of China's foreign minister, and his tirade against a journalist.

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China’s foreign minister made headlines in Ottawa this week for all the wrong reasons when he took exception to a question posed by a journalist. But experts say it’s unlikely the Chinese care about the bad press.

“They’ll have to deal with damage control,” former diplomat Colin Robertson told the West Block’s Tom Clark.

“But I’m not sure that they care. There are a number of things that take place that they feel they’re getting bad press (on) from the western media.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion stood next to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, seemingly stunned into silence, as the Chinese politician ripped into a journalist from news website iPolitics. Wang called the question on the jailing of a Canadian, Kevin Garratt, “irresponsible.” The question had not, in fact, even been directed at Wang.

 WATCH: China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs blasts Canadian journalist


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Current senator and former journalist Jim Munson said he was deeply offended by Wang’s outburst on Canadian soil.

“It was very upsetting,” Munson said.

“He couldn’t have picked a worse time, and particularly for me because I’m quite emotional about this issue, having seen children and adults killed in Tiananmen [Square]. There was a massacre in Tiananmen. And to say this on our territory and to say this about a journalist, my goodness, it hit home again to me what is wrong in China.”

READ MORE: Trudeau says Canada expressed ‘dissatisfaction’ with China for berating reporter

Both Munson and Robertson said that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau now has a responsibility to address themes of press freedom, the consular immunity of Canadians in China and human rights on his next visit to the country.

“Certainly the first public speech that we make over there would probably have to touch on all those three themes,” said Robertson. “Because you do not want to look like you’re going in to deal with the Chinese on the back foot or from a period of weakness.”

— Watch the full panel discussion above.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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