Soon, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet for discussions with the goal of reducing the tension that has persisted in Beijing for many years.
After a series of disagreements about commerce and security, this visit is seen as an important step in mending strained relations between the two countries.
The lifting of tariffs imposed by China on Australian exports is at the top of Mr. Albanese’s wish list for the meeting, which will focus mostly on trade issues.
It is anticipated that Mr. Xi will request increased access to important Australian industries.
“What I’ve said is that we need to cooperate with China at the point where we can, as well as disagree where we must, & engage in our national interest,” Mr. Albanese told reporters in Beijing on Monday, ahead of the meeting.
The diplomatic ice age that preceded his journey was caused by a number of factors, including Australia’s demands for a probe into the origins of Covid-19 and economic restrictions enforced by Beijing on significant Australian exports such beef, wine, and barley. His travel came as a result of these factors.
It also happens to coincide with 50th anniversary of the famous trip that Gough Whitlam took to China in 1973 to pay a visit to Mao Zedong. This trip was the first one taken by an Australian prime minister after the establishing of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
Reporters questioned Mr. Albanese on whether or not Australia can “trust” China. In response, he stated that his previous interactions with Mr. Xi have been “positive” and “constructive.”
“However, we are also aware that everyone of us comes from a different political system, with quite distinct values and history as a result of those political systems. But we take each other at our word when we do business.”
However, a litany of contentious issues and worries around safety will hang over the talks on Monday.
Mr. Albanese is facing pressure at home to negotiate the release of Australian author Yang Hengjun, who has been imprisoned in China on espionage allegations since 2019. The writer’s health is thought to be quickly deteriorating, and China has held him in prison since 2019.
Analysts believe that the expanding military relations between Canberra and Washington and the recent reform of Australia’s defense posture, both of which are widely perceived as being targeted at opposing China, could make it difficult for the two sides to find common ground outside of the realm of economic interests.
However, in recent years, the Australian government has taken measures to limit Chinese ownership of important minerals and mining projects. Some experts expect that Beijing could seek for more access to Australia’s resources and renewable energy industries.