China’s President Xi Jinping assured Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Monday that their nations could establish a relationship of trust. He pledged to collaborate with Canberra on a wide range of issues, spanning regional security to climate change, as the two leaders made efforts to alleviate years of strained relations that had a significant impact on trade worth billions of dollars.
Beijing is Australia’s largest trading partner. However, relations soured in 2020 when Australia’s conservative government, at the time, excluded the Chinese tech giant Huawei from 5G contracts and advocated for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19, which was initially identified in China. In response to these actions, Beijing imposed punitive tariffs on various Australian commodities, including coal, barley, and wine, as the bilateral relationship deteriorated significantly.
However, there has been a change in China’s stance since Anthony Albanese assumed office in May of the previous year. China has lifted most of its restrictions on Australian goods and expressed its desire for “healthy and stable” relations.
During their meeting in Beijing on Monday, Xi mentioned that the two nations lacked any fundamental conflict of interest. He emphasized that China and Australia had the potential to become partners based on mutual trust and success, as reported in a statement provided by state broadcaster CCTV.
Xi further stated that, given the significant global developments, both sides should identify the appropriate path for the development of China-Australia relations.
In their discussions, the areas of cooperation ranged from promoting peace and stability in the Asia Pacific region to addressing climate change, as stated by the Chinese leader. In opening remarks featured on Australia’s public broadcaster ABC, Anthony Albanese, the first Australian leader to visit China in over seven years, expressed his recognition of the positive progress in bilateral relations.
Albanese conveyed to Xi that since their previous meeting in Indonesia last year, trade has seen improved flow to the advantage of both their nations. He also highlighted the opportunity to further explore potential areas of collaboration between the two countries.
While acknowledging the need to remain realistic about the differences between the two nations, Albanese maintained a diplomatic stance.