Chinese State Councilor & Foreign Minister Wang Yi has called on Canada to make independent decisions to eliminate major barriers in bilateral relations amid Ottawa’s prolonged detention of Meng Wanzhou, the Financial Chief of Chinese Telecommunications Company Huawei.

Wang made the remark when meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne in Rome during an eight-day European trip.

China and Canada do not have any historical contradictions or conflicts of interest, Wang said, adding that their bilateral ties encountered severe difficulties, however, after Canada arbitrarily detained the Chinese citizen.

“He who started the trouble should end it,” Wang said, urging Canada to properly understand the issue.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of China-Canada relations. Wang said that 50 years ago, Canadian leaders resisted external interference and withstood pressure to establish diplomatic relations with China, which was the correct step.

However, ties between the two nations have become strained since Canadian police detained Meng in December 2018 on a US extradition warrant. China has repeatedly accused Canada of acting as an accomplice of the US in the incident.

Zhang Tengjun, an assistant research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, said that if Meng’s case continues dragging on, it will have more negative effects on normal cooperation and mutual trust between China and Canada.

“Canada should realize that it is impossible to continue suppressing Meng and Huawei while expecting to maintain normal exchanges with China,” Zhang said.

Only by resolving Meng’s case in a timely and effective manner can the tension in China-Canada relations be eased, he said.

Canada is under no obligation to cooperate with the US to suppress Chinese high-tech companies, and it has set a bad example, he said.

In a statement issued by the Canadian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday, during their meeting, Champagne called for immediate consular access to Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

The two Canadians were detained in December 2018 on charges of engaging in activities endangering China’s National Security.

In response to Champagne, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a daily news briefing on Wednesday that China has been telling Canada to respect the spirit of the rule of law as well as China’s judicial sovereignty.

The current difficulties in bilateral ties were not caused by China, Zhao said, and he urged Ottawa to immediately take effective measures to correct its mistakes and create conditions to bring bilateral ties back on the right track.

New Cold War Opposed

In another development, Wang told reporters after meeting with his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio that China has no intention of launching, and opposes promoting, a new Cold War, in reference to the deterioration of Sino-US relations.

Starting a new Cold War is a step backwards. It takes the people of the whole world hostage to serve one’s selfish interests, Wang said, adding that he believes that the attempt will meet opposition from various countries.

Italy is the first stop of Wang’s first overseas trip as the COVID-19 pandemic eases. During the two foreign ministers’ meeting, Wang called on China and Italy to resume exchanges at all levels in an orderly manner, strengthen their intergovernmental cooperation mechanism and restart landmark cooperation projects at an early date.

China and Italy should also focus on the Belt & Road cooperation, he said, urging the two countries to make good use of the fast track for personnel exchanges and accelerate the resumption of work and production.

The two countries, he added, should jointly uphold multilateralism and trade liberalization, safeguard the security of global industrial and supply chains, and help promote global anti-pandemic cooperation and economic recovery.

Wang said he hopes Italy and Europe can provide Chinese companies with a fair and transparent business environment

Di Maio said that Italy hopes to further strengthen the existing cooperation mechanism between the two countries and will push for new progress in important cooperation projects within the Belt & Road framework.

Italy stands ready to serve as a bridge for East-West communication and a link for China-EU exchanges, he said.