Chinese minister hopes ties with Canada can get back on track

G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

BEIJING (Reuters) - China hopes relations with Canada can get back on track, China's foreign ministry said on Saturday, citing its minister telling his Canadian counterpart, after several years of strained relations between them.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the Canadian minister, Melanie Joly, that their countries had never been rivals but partners, and China had never been posed a threat but an opportunity.

The ministers met on Friday on the sidelines of a G20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia.

Tension between China and Canada deepened after Canada in 2018 detained an executive of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei on a U.S. warrant linked to a suspected breach of U.S. sanctions on Iran.

China, which said the accusation was fabricated, subsequently arrested two Canadians on spying charges. Canada dismissed the accusations against the two.

The diplomatic standoff ended when all three were released in September 2021.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine was in the spotlight at the G20 meeting, as was China's position on the conflict.

Last month, G7 leaders, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, pressed China to use its influence with Russia to end its attack on Ukraine and drop "expansive" Chinese maritime claims in the South China Sea.

Also in June, Canada's military accused Chinese warplanes of harassing its patrol aircraft as they monitored North Korea sanction evasions.

Joly said in a post on Twitter she had discussed the impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine and the resulting food crisis in her talks with Wang.

"I reiterated Canada’s concerns with human rights and raised consular matters," she said, adding that she had also discussed protecting biodiversity.

The Chinese ministry cited Wang as saying China hoped Canada would respect facts and be cautious in words and deeds on China-related issues, and work to meet China halfway to bring ties back on track.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo; Editing by Robert Birsel)