Australian Foreign Minister seeks to stabilize relations with China

Sydney, Australia, Dec 19 (EFE).- Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong announced on Monday an official visit to China to stabilize relations between the two countries, in a new diplomatic rapprochement since ties between Canberra and Beijing began to deteriorate in 2018.

The visit of Wong, who will depart on Tuesday, is the first trip to China by an Australian minister since the visit in November 2019 of then-Minister of Commerce, Simon Birmingham, in the midst of escalating trade tensions between the two nations.

During his visit, Wong will meet on Wednesday with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, in the framework of the sixth Australia-China Foreign and Strategic Dialogue, which was last held in 2018, and will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the start of relations between the two nations, reported the Australian government.

“Australia seeks a stable relationship with China; we will cooperate where we can, disagree where we must and engage in the national interest,” Wong said in in a joint statement with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

Albanese, who met Chinese President Xi Jinping in November on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Indonesia’s Bali, has stepped up diplomatic efforts for improved ties with China, its main trading partner and with whom it has experienced multiple disagreements in recent years.

The problems were compounded by several disagreements, including the exclusion of Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE from participating in Australia’s 5G network in 2018 on security grounds.

Relations have also deteriorated with issues such as the militarization of China, and Australia’s adoption of laws against foreign interference and espionage, following Chinese donations to politicians and cyber attacks on state agencies and universities attributed to Beijing.

China was particularly annoyed by Australia’s request for an independent investigation into the origin of Covid-19, and responded by imposing import tariffs on several Australian products.

Moreover, Australia is fearful of China’s growing influence in the strategic Pacific region following the April agreement between the Asian country and Solomon Islands, which opens the door for Beijing’s security forces to be sent at Honiara’s request. EFE


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