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Australian PM visits China to seal thaw

Australian PM visits China to seal thaw

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese begins a visit to China on Saturday, a sign of warming bilateral relations after years of further turmoil over economic and political disputes.

Mr Albanese’s four-day trip to Beijing and Shanghai will be the first Australian leader to visit China since 2016.

Albanis will meet Chinese leaders and “exchange in-depth views on bilateral, international and regional affairs,” China’s foreign ministry said on Friday.

“China is willing to use this visit as an opportunity to strengthen communication, increase mutual trust, expand cooperation, deepen friendship and promote bilateral relations… to work with Australia,” ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters.

“A healthy and stable relationship between China and Australia meets the fundamental interests of both countries and peoples,” he added.

Relations between Canberra and Beijing were particularly tense in late 2019 when Australia called for an international investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, which was first detected in China.

In response, China imposed higher tariffs on key Australian exports such as barley, beef and wine in 2020, at the height of a diplomatic row with the incumbent conservative government.

Beijing also stopped buying key raw materials, including coal, from Australia, depriving the country of billions of dollars in revenue.

However, many tariff barriers have been phased out since Labor returned to power in May 2022.

Ahead of Mr Albanese’s visit, China’s ambassador to Australia, Xiao Qian, stressed in a statement that relations between China and Australia were at a “crucial moment”.

Non-strategic alignment

Despite the onset of a thaw with Beijing, Mr. Albanese clarified.

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“We are clear about this. We are two countries with different histories, values ​​and political systems,” the Australian leader said during a visit to Washington in October.

Mr. Through Albanese’s visit, “China is trying to drive a wedge between the US and Australia,” observes Yun Sun, a researcher at the Washington-based Stimson Center.

Beck Straightening, Professor of Australian Law Trope University, Mr. The arrival of the Albanians is a sign of warming bilateral relations, however, it is not a guarantee of resolving the ongoing conflicts between the two countries.

“Security issues are a fundamental concern between Australia and China,” he believes.

At the diplomatic level, however, progress has been made recently. In early October, China released Australian journalist Cheng Lee, who had been detained for more than three years on espionage charges.

His release has renewed hope for the sons of Australian author Yang Jun, imprisoned in China since 2019, who asked the Australian prime minister on Wednesday to discuss their father’s fate during his visit to Beijing.