China ignored Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's personal request for dialogue to end a spiralling diplomatic row, his office revealed Wednesday.
"Ahead of the upcoming G-20 Osaka Summit, the two leaders will discuss key global challenges, including China's wrongful detention of two Canadian citizens", Mr Trudeau's office said in a statement.
Relations between the two leaders have improved in recent months since hitting a low in June 2018 after Trump insulted Trudeau in the wake of a Group of Seven summit in Canada.
Besides the Kovrig and Spavor cases, China has obstructed shipments of Canadian agriculture products such as canola and pork, claiming that they're ridden with pests or have labelling problems.
Days later China arrested two Canadians - former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor - in what is widely seen as a tit-for-tat move.
Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were detained after the December 1 arrest of a top Huawei executive, Meng Wanzhou, in Vancouver on a U.S. warrant. On Thursday the government promised that Export Development Canada will put up $150 million in additional insurance backing for canola farmers looking to sell in new markets.
Trudeau's visit falls on the second last scheduled day of the House of Commons sitting.
In point of fact, Beijing, hooked in a heightening trade disputes with China, had blocked imports of Canadian canola seed, while China had been the largest canola seed importer of Canada before the arrest and detention of Meng earlier on December 2018 on a U.S. extradition request over allegations of misleading financial organizations with her company's tie-up with a Hong Kong-based tech firm SkyCorp., which had been selling Hewlett Packard tech instruments to Iran despite a United States ban. As much as the government wants to move "in tandem" with the US toward final approval of the new agreement, it doesn't want to get too far ahead.
Canada and Mexico are ready to ratify the new NAFTA, but the U.S. Congress is less enthusiastic, with some members seeking stronger provisions on labour and environmental standards in Mexico before they take it up.
Canadian foreign minister Crystia Freeland last month said she had also sought a meeting with her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, to no avail. A day earlier, Freeland discussed trade with US trade czar Robert Lighthizer and China with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.