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PM Albanese Celebrates Breakthrough with China After Xi Talks

PM Albanese Celebrates Breakthrough with China After Xi Talks

PM Albanese Celebrates Breakthrough with China After Xi Talks

PM Albanese Celebrates Breakthrough with China After Xi Talks

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  • Albanese cites “significant headway” in Australia-China relations post talks with Xi Jinping.
  • Albanese’s visit to Shanghai marks first Australian leader visit to China since 2016.
  • Trade issues and economic interests at the forefront of discussions.
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Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese expressed that there has been “significant headway” in Australia’s relationship with China following his talks with President Xi Jinping in Beijing.

Albanese’s visit to Shanghai marked a significant milestone as he became the first Australian leader to visit China since 2016.

This four-day state visit holds considerable importance in improving bilateral ties, especially amid ongoing trade and security disputes.

Trade issues are taking center stage, with Mr. Albanese advocating for the elimination of Chinese tariffs on Australian exports.

President Xi is also expected to seek increased access to key Australian sectors.

Both leaders committed to working in the “shared interests” of their nations, marking a positive shift after years of tension.

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Welcoming Mr. Albanese to the Great Hall of the People, President Xi said China and Australia stood to become “trusting partners” and were on the “correct path of improving and developing relations”, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Mr. Xi told Mr. Albanese that Beijing hoped to “fully develop the potential of the China-Australia free trade agreement”.

Ahead of their talks, Mr. Albanese had told reporters: “We need to co-operate with China where we can, disagree where we must and engage in our national interest.

“I think there are promising signs. We’ve already seen a number of the impediments to trade between our two nations removed and an uplift already, substantial uplift, in the trade between our two nations.”

The backdrop for his visit includes a period of strained diplomacy, driven in part by Australia’s request for a probe into the origins of Covid-19 and China’s imposition of economic sanctions on critical Australian exports like beef, wine, and barley.

Notably, this visit coincides with the 50th anniversary of Gough Whitlam’s historic 1973 trip to China to meet Mao Zedong, a momentous event as it marked the first visit by an Australian prime minister after diplomatic relations were established.

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In response to questions about trust in China, Mr. Albanese pointed out that his previous interactions with President Xi had been “favorable” and “constructive,” offering a positive perspective on the matter.

“But we recognize, as well, that we come with different political systems, very different values arising from that and different histories. But we deal with each other on face value.”

Nonetheless, there are several contentious issues and security apprehensions looming over the talks scheduled for Monday.

Yang Hengjun, an Australian writer whose health is reportedly deteriorating, has been detained in China on charges of espionage since 2019. Pressure from within Australia mounts on Mr. Albanese to secure his release.

The deepening military connections between Canberra and Washington, as well as recent alterations to Australia’s defense strategy—perceived as a response to China—may complicate efforts to find common ground beyond economic interests, according to analysts.

Some experts anticipate that Beijing may seek increased access to Australia’s resources and renewable energy sectors. However, the Australian government has implemented measures in recent years to restrict Chinese ownership of vital minerals and mining projects.

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“I walk away from the meeting satisfied that we have positive engagement between Australia and China,” Mr. Albanese told reporters.

He mentioned that the discussion encompassed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the conflicts in the Middle East. However, the “14 grievances” that China had lodged against Australia during the nadir of diplomatic relations were not addressed during the meeting.

“I spoke about guardrails and military-to-military co-operation between the United States and China; that’s important,” Mr. Albanese said.

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