The leaders of Australia and China met for the first time in six years to resume trade relations

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (Reuters)

After years of icy relations, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Chinese President Xi Jinping attempted to restart their cooperation on Tuesday at the G20 summit in Indonesia with the first meeting of leaders in years.

Xi spoke briefly with former Prime Minister Scott Morrison during the 2019 G-20 summit in Japan, but the two countries have not held a formal high-level meeting for five years.

Albanese said during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Indonesia They discussed commercial and consular issues and human rights and recognized their “highly integrated” economies.

Australia is looking for a stable relationship with China. “We have big disagreements to deal with, but we will always be better when we have a dialogue and can talk constructively and respectfully, but also honestly,” Albanese said at a news conference after the more than 30-minute meeting.

The meeting takes place during Both countries are working to improve relations that have been overshadowed by disputes over trade, Taiwan, human rights, and the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Xi said there has never been a fundamental conflict of interest between the two countries, which have great potential for economic and trade cooperation. Australia’s largest trading partner and accounts for up to a third of its A$475 billion (US$303 billion) annual exports.

Sino-Australian relations have faced difficulties in recent years, and this is not what we wanted to see.Shi said, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Xi Jinping (Reuters)
Xi Jinping (Reuters)

Albanese said he had raised the issue of Chinese tariffs and bans on Australian products, which were first raised in 2020 in response to Australia’s calls for an international investigation into the origins of COVID-19, but cautioned not to expect any immediate changes. “I have outlined Australia’s position with respect to the obstacles in our trade relationship,” Albanese said.

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It was a positive discussion, we presented our position. No immediate statements were expected at a meeting like this.” Relations between Australia and China began to deteriorate in 2017 when Australia passed laws to deal with what it said was Chinese interference in Australian politics.

Beijing was also angered by Canberra’s 2018 decision to ban its tech giant Huawei from its 5G network on national security grounds, a move other Western countries have followed. two Australian journalists, Cheng Lei and Yang Hengjun are in prison in China awaiting sentencing after national security trials behind closed doors.

Albanese said China acknowledged that Australia had raised the issue of the jailed journalists, but did not go into details.

With information from Reuters

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