(In sixth paragraph, changes spokeswomen to spokeswoman)
OTTAWA, April 18 (Reuters) - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday pressed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to relax curbs on high-tech exports to China and also suggested the two nations work together on clean energy, China’s official Xinhua news agency said.
Trudeau wants to boost trade with China as a way of lessening dependence on exports to the United States, especially given protectionist signs from the administration of President Donald Trump.
Canada, citing national security needs, places strict restrictions on the Canadian assets that China and other nations can buy.
Reporting on a phone call between the two leaders, Xinhua said, “The Chinese premier hoped that Canada would relax the restrictions on high-tech exports to China, believing this would be helpful to a balanced growth of bilateral trade.”
Last month, Trudeau’s Liberals allowed Hong Kong-based O-Net Technologies Group Ltd to buy a Canadian technology company, reversing a 2015 decision by the former Conservative government to block the deal on national security grounds.
Trudeau spokeswoman Andree-Lyne Halle confirmed the two men had spoken and said more details would be released later.
China is looking to boost its global environmental role as Trump shows signs of pulling back from green commitments the United States made under previous President Barack Obama.
Li also told Trudeau that the two nations should “strengthen cooperation on tackling climate change and cooperate in new areas such as clean energy”, according to Xinhua.
In September, during a visit by Li to Ottawa, Canada and China said they would start exploratory talks on a free trade pact.
Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Cynthia Osterman