China’s Xi Vows to Work With Australia for Sustainable Ties

American Age Official

(Bloomberg) — Chinese President Xi Jinping exchanged congratulatory messages with his Australian counterpart to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations, the latest sign of warming ties between the two major trade partners.

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State broadcaster China Central Television reported Wednesday that Xi had sent messages to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Governor General David Hurley.

Xi said China was willing to work with Australia to promote sustainable development of bilateral relations and that a stable and healthy diplomatic relationship is in the interest of both nations, CCTV said.

The election of the center-left Labor government in Australia in May has set in motion a diplomatic reset with China, repairing ties which had grown strained under the previous prime minister, Scott Morrison.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong met with her counterpart Wang Yi for the first state visit by a top Australian diplomat since 2018, where the two discussed trade, human rights and future dialog between the two countries.

Speaking after the meeting, Wong said she had raised with Wang the cases of two Australians held in China on spying charges, Cheng Lei and Yang Hengjun. “We raise that in every single engagement that we are able to,” she said.

The meeting ran for more than one and a half hours, which Wong said gave the two sides an opportunity to discuss issues in “greater depth.”

“The government’s made it clear that we believe it’s in Australia’s interest for our relationship with China to be stabilized,” she said.

In April 2020, calls by Morrison for an international investigation into the origins of Covid-19 angered the Chinese government. It later placed trade sanctions on a number of Australian exports, including wine, barley and meat.

Wong said the two sides discussed the possibility for future dialog to improve trade relations between the two countries, but didn’t say how responsive the Chinese government was to relaxing the sanctions.

Since Morrison’s electoral loss, both sides have held several senior ministerial meetings, including talks between Albanese and Xi on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in November.

In Twitter post on Wednesday, Albanese said Australia wanted to have a “stable” relationship with China.

“We will cooperate where we can, disagree where we must and engage in the national interest,” the Australian leader said.

While Albanese said he would be happy to visit Beijing in 2023, Wong did not say whether any progress had been made toward a state visit.

–With assistance from Philip Glamann.

(Updates to add quotes from Wong from sixth paragraph)

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