Trudeau then said Canada believed in “free and open and frank dialogue” and would continue to look to work constructively together, but that “there will be things we will disagree on, and we will have to…”

“Let’s create the conditions first,” Xi retorted before parting ways with the prime minister.

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The rare public expression of displeasure between two major leaders came after Xi and Trudeau held their first face-to-face meeting in three years on Tuesday.

The informal conversation, which lasted 10 minutes, was followed by Canadian media reports claiming the prime minister had raised “serious concerns” over China’s alleged funding of 11 candidates in Canada’s 2019 elections.

When asked about the meeting, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning declined to comment.

Speaking to media after his on-camera verbal spat with the Chinese president, Trudeau said “not every conversation is going to be easy”.

“I think it’s important that Canadians in a democracy, that citizens in a democracy, be apprised of the work that leaders are doing on their behalf,” the prime minister said.

“And I won’t shy away from being open with Canadians, even as we discuss important and sometimes delicate subjects.”

Randolph Mank, a former Canadian ambassador who also served in Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade under conservative prime minister Stephen Harper from 2006 to 2008, described it as “perfectly normal” for either side to give a read-out of bilateral meetings.

Mank, who is now the director of Ottawa-based think tank Mank Global, believed Canadians should be “proud” of Trudeau for “raising difficult issues with China”.

“Perhaps President XI felt uncomfortable because he is not used to being challenged at home,” said Mank. “But that’s why international summits are important.”

After nearly three years, the situation culminated in a high-stakes prisoner swap as Meng secured a deal with US prosecutors to dismiss her extradition case in Canada.

On Monday, an employee of Hydro-Quebec, Canada’s largest electricity producer, was arrested and charged for attempting to steal trade secrets for China.

Calling China an “increasingly disruptive global power”, she said Canada would “challenge China when we ought to” and “cooperate with China when we must”.