The escalating tensions between Canada and China that have emerged after the arrest of a top Huawei Technologies Co. executive last month will not be resolved easily, according to former governor general David Johnston.

Johnston, who served as governor general form 2010 to 2017, called the tensions “difficult” and suggested that Canada has been unfairly targeted after arresting Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou on Dec. 1 on a U.S. extradition request.

“It’s a difficult set of issues and to some extent, Canada has been backed into a corner by other parties,” Johnston said in an interview Monday with BNN Bloomberg’s Amber Kanwar. “We’ll have to work very hard and thoughtfully to find our way past this particular one.”

Johnston’s comments come as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been working to ramp up international pressure against China after the detention of two Canadians in the wake of Meng’s arrest. A Chinese court also sentenced a Canadian man to death for drug trafficking last week, a move that Trudeau has denounced as “arbitrary.” 

Johnston added that it’s important that Canada and China resolve their differences given that the Canadian economy needs to diversify globally.

“These are real challenges and Canada is in the unfortunate position of being very much in the spotlight at the present time,” Johnston said.

“If you look at the longer view, the reality is, the rise of the East is very real,” he added. “It’s important that Canada not only diversifies … but [come] to understand and be able to conduct business relations with cultures that are dramatically different than our own and in some cases, government structures that are dramatically different than our own.”