AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister Anthony Albanese meets Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, on Monday.—Reuters
AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister Anthony Albanese meets Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, on Monday.—Reuters

BEIJING: President Xi Jinping said on Monday stable ties between China and Australia served each other’s interests and both should expand their cooperation, sending a clear signal that Beijing was ready to move on from recent tensions.

China and Australia should promote the development of their strategic partnership as they build up mutual understanding and trust, Xi told Australian Prime Mini­ster Anthony Albanese, the first Australian leader to visit Beijing since 2016, at the Great Hall of the People in the heart of the Chinese capital.

A strong relationship “will be beneficial into the future,” Albanese told Xi in their second face-to-face talks in a year, a meeting that lasted more than an hour.

For decades, China and Australia built a relationship on trade, with Beijing becoming Canberra’s biggest commercial partner with purchases of Austra­lian food and natural resources.

Xi says both countries should promote development of strategic partnership

But ties soured after Australia in 2017 accused China of meddling in its politics. The following year, Australia banned equipment from Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co for its 5G network out of national security fears.

An Australian call in 2020 for an international inquiry into the origin of the Covid pandemic, which emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, infuriated Beijing, which responded with blocks on various Australian imports.

Earlier on Monday, Albanese stopped by Beiji­ng’s iconic Temple of Heaven and posed for a photograph at the circular Echo Wall where Aust­ralia’s then prime minister, Gough Whitlam, stood in 1973, a year after the two countries established ties.

“In China we often say that when drinking water, we should not forget those who dug the well,” Xi said. “The Chinese people will not forget Prime Minister Whitlam for digging the well for us.”

Albanese took steps to stabilise relations after he became prime minister in May last year and met Xi on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Indonesia in November.

China soon began lowering trade barriers, allowing imports of coal in January and ending tariffs on barley in August. Last month, Beijing agreed to review dumping tariffs of 218 per cent on Australian wine.

“I noted very much unimpeded trade was in the interest of both countries, was good for Chinese consumers as well as Australian exporters,” Albanese told repo­rters after the meeting. “He certainly agreed that Australian wine is good.”

The meeting was “very positive”, Albanese said, adding that he had invited Xi to visit Australia. Obstacles remain in their relationship. Australian backing of a UN ruling rejecting China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea has angered Beijing, which has told Canberra the issue is not its concern.

Australia says the South China Sea is an important passageway for its trade with Japan and South Korea.

Beijing’s projection of power among Pacific island nations also alarmed Australia, while Canberra’s security alliance with the United States and Britain in the Asia-Pacific — known as AUKUS — stoked Chinese worries about containment.

“AUKUS didn’t come up explicitly. We discussed, though, regional stability,” Albanese said, without giving specifics. “I spoke about guardrails and military-to-military cooperation between the United States and China. That’s important.”

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2023

Opinion

Editorial

First steps
29 May, 2024

First steps

IT is, without doubt, a positive development. The chief minister of KP seems to have reached an arrangement that ...
Rafah inferno
29 May, 2024

Rafah inferno

THE level of barbarity witnessed in Sunday’s Israeli air strike targeting a refugee camp in Rafah is shocking even...
On a whim
29 May, 2024

On a whim

THE sudden declaration of May 28 as a public holiday to observe Youm-i-Takbeer — the anniversary of Pakistan’s...
Afghan puzzle
Updated 28 May, 2024

Afghan puzzle

Unless these elements are neutralised, it will not be possible to have the upper hand over terrorist groups.
Attacking minorities
28 May, 2024

Attacking minorities

Mobs turn into executioners due to the authorities’ helplessness before these elements.
Persistent scourge
28 May, 2024

Persistent scourge

THE challenge of polio in Pakistan has reached a new nadir, drawing grave concerns from the Technical Advisory Group...