Xi Addresses China-Australia Relationship With Prime Minister Albanese

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Building on his summit on Monday with President Biden, President Xi Jinping of China held talks on Tuesday with Australia’s prime minister, Anthony Albanese, ending Beijing’s yearslong freeze on top-level talks between the two trade partners.

Mr. Xi and Mr. Albanese met during the Group of 20 summit of world leaders in Bali, Indonesia, in another sign that China is looking more broadly to ease diplomatic rifts with Western countries.

Relations between Australia and China spiraled downward in 2017, as Australia galvanized to counter potential illicit Chinese political influence, upgraded security ties with the United States in response to China’s military buildup, and banned Chinese telecommunications companies from helping to build its 5G network because of security concerns that Chinese equipment could leave the networks exposed to breaches by Beijing. China imposed a series of trade sanctions and punitive tariffs on Australian wine, coal and other goods.

The deterioration in ties reached its nadir after 2020, when Beijing vehemently denounced a call by Scott Morrison, then the Australian prime minister, for an international inquiry into the spread of the coronavirus from China. In 2021, Australia announced a military technology partnership with Britain and the United States, including a proposal to build nuclear-powered submarines.

Mr. Albanese, whose Labor Party won an election this year, has moved steadily to ease the tensions, without raising hopes that ties with China will return to their former rosy optimism, which was borne out of booming Chinese demand for Australian iron ore and other commodities.

“This was another important step toward the stabilization of the Australia-China relationship,” Mr. Albanese said after his meeting with Mr. Xi, which lasted a little over half an hour. “We are always going to be better off when we talk to each other, calmly and directly. There are many steps yet to take. We will cooperate where we can, disagree where we must and engage in our national interest.”

“In the past few years the China-Australia relationship has had some difficulties,” Mr. Xi told Mr. Albanese, according to an unofficial translation cited in Australian news media reports. “This is something we would not like to see.”

Plenty of obstacles remain. Mr. Albanese told reporters that he raised the cases of Australian citizens detained in China, including Cheng Lei, a journalist, and Yang Hengjun, a businessman and writer. He also said he raised the continued “blockages in our trading relationship,” referring to the restrictions on Australian products.

“We have big differences to manage,” Mr. Albanese said.

Sumber: www.nytimes.com

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