Australian Foreign Minister In China After Breakdown In Ties:
Australian Foreign Minister In China After Breakdown In Ties
Beijing: Penny Wong became the first Australian minister to visit China in four years. The leaders of both countries also exchanged messages to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong landed in China on Wednesday after years of strained relations between the two countries.
Wong is the first Australian minister to visit China since 2019 and is leading the government’s first formal talks in Beijing since 2018. The meeting comes after China blocked the import of several commodities from Australia.
“We can grow our bilateral relationship and uphold both our national interests if both countries navigate our differences wisely,” she said at the beginning of the meeting.
Wong also said she would advocate for detained citizens. China has detained Australian citizens Yang Hengjun since 2019 and Cheng Lei since 2020.
Xi and Albanese exchange greetings
Chinese Premier Xi Jinping exchanged greetings with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Wednesday to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
“I attach great importance to the development of China-Australia relations and am willing to work with the Australian side,” Xi said in a telegram, Chinese state media reported.
China is Australia’s largest export market. But China moved to ban coal, beef and other key exports from Australia in 2020 after the Australian government at the time pushed for an international inquiry into the origins of COVID-19.
Ties had already been strained since Australia banned Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei from building the country’s 5G network in 2018 — making it the first country to do so.
However, the election of Labor leader Albanese in May 2022 was seen by some as a potential turning point after years of strained relations. Xi and Albanese first spoke on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali in November.
“It is important that we deliver better relations with our major trading partner in the future,” the Australian prime minister said at a press conference in Sydney on Wednesday.