Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said China has been “playing” Western states against each other and that democracies should present a “united front” in response.

Canada Diplomats Olympics

Justin Trudeau

“There’s been a bit of competition amongst friends because we’re capitalist democracies trying to do well, especially given the extraordinary economic opportunity of the rise in the Chinese middle class,” Trudeau said in an interview with Global News that aired on Saturday.

“We’ve been competing, and China has been from time to time very cleverly playing us off each other in an open-market, competitive way,” Trudeau said. “We need to do a better job of working together and standing strong so that China can’t play the angles and divide us one against the other.”

Trudeau’s comments come at a fraught time between the two governments. For nearly three years, China held two Canadians in jail as accused spies – a move Canada saw as retaliation for the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei Technologies Co.’s chief financial officer and eldest daughter of its billionaire founder.

Earlier this month, Canada joined the U.S. and other Western allies in announcing a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, citing human rights concerns. The Trudeau government is also considering banning Huawei from participating in the country’s 5G wireless network.

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