|Li Xue Jiang of the Chinese newspaper People's Daily is hauled away by members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police after he tried to grab a microphone and ask Prime Minister Stephen Harper (background R) a question during a news conference at Xstrata Nickel's Raglan Mine in the Nunavik region of northern Quebec, August 23, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
NUNAVIK, QUE. - A Chinese-state owned newspaper reporter was pulled back from a press conference Friday by the RCMP after he shoved one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's staffers and tried to grab a microphone to ask a question.
Li Xue Jiang is the Ottawa-based bureau chief of the China People's Daily, a news organization often described as a communication arm for the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. But Li is also an accredited member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery just like journalists from Sun Media or CTV or the National Post. Li and other members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery have been accompanying Harper on his annual Arctic tour this week.
At a nickel mine here for an announcement, Li insisted on asking a question of Harper. When Harper's staffers told him he wasn't allowed, Li refused to move out of the line for the microphone.
Eventually, Li shoved Julie Vaux, one of Harper's senior aides.
Li says Vaux pushed him first.
"I'm sorry for what happened," Li told reporters after the altercation.
"She pushed me first ... She grabbed me several times, so that's why I pushed her."
After shoving Vaux, Li then also tried to grab the microphone and that's when RCMP who were on site protecting Harper moved in and hauled Li to the back of the event space, a large barn at the mine.
"Agree or disagree with how events are run, there was no excuse for the Chinese state reporter to get physical with our staff," Andrew MacDougall, the prime minister's director of communications, said in a statement posted from Ottawa on Twitter. "We will be raising the matter with the [Parliamentary] Press Gallery and Mr. Li should apologize immediately."
While all of the eleven reporters who travelled this week with Harper were allowed to ask one or two questions during the trip, neither of the two Chinese journalists were.
Harper's office had been choosing different Canadian reporters each day when he took questions but never picked the Chinese reporters.
Li said he would have asked Harper to "clarify" his position on foreign state-owned investment in Canada.