(Bloomberg) — China and Australia’s improving relations should receive a boost with the planned visit of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to Beijing this year, Ambassador Xiao Qian said on Wednesday.
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China’s envoy to Australia said the common ground between the two countries was greater than their differences and provided a backdrop to bring relations back to normal. “We want to move beyond stabilization, and to further improve our relationship,” Xiao said at an Asia Society event in Melbourne.
Relations between Australia and China reached their lowest point in 2020, after then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an international investigation into the origins of Covid-19 — a politically sensitive issue for Beijing. In response, the Chinese government imposed trade sanctions on a range of Australian exports, including heavy tariffs on wine and barley.
Following the election of Albanese center-left Labor government in May 2022, Australia and China saw significant improvement in their diplomatic relations. High-level ministerial meetings between the two countries restarted, while a number of sanctions on Australian exports were lifted.
Albanese is expected to visit Beijing before the end of 2023, a trip scheduled to mark 50 years since the first visit of an Australian leader to China in 1973.
Asked about growing concerns over the state of the Chinese economy, Xiao said the worsening data in recent months was only temporary and that the overall trajectory of the country’s growth was positive.
“Australia should have confidence in China’s economy, and should have confidence in trade relations, economic relations between the two countries,” he said.
–With assistance from Zoe Ma.
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