Australia is aiming for a stable relationship with China, despite differences, particularly on trade, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong (黃英賢) said, as she called on Beijing to use its influence as a great power to help end the war in Ukraine.
Canberra’s ties with its largest trading partner are at a low after disputes over a number of issues, including the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, trade and Australian accusations of Chinese interference.
“I think it is a long road on which many steps will have to be taken by both parties to a more stable relationship,” Wong told reporters on Thursday after meeting Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
“In terms of issues of difference, obviously first amongst them is the issue of trade blockages, and that is the issue I focused on at the outset,” she said.
Wong said her meeting with Wang was constructive and she urged China, as one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (P5), to use its influence to help end the Ukraine crisis.
“China is a great power... We encourage China as a P5 member with a special responsibility to uphold the UN charter to use its influence to end the war,” she said.
She said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was illegal and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons was “unthinkable and irresponsible.”
Wong said in her talks with Wang, she had raised the issue of Australian journalist Cheng Lei (成蕾) and blogger Yang Hengjun (楊恒均), who have been detained in China and face espionage charges.
Thursday’s meeting with Wang, the second in three months, comes as the recently elected Labor government looks to rebuild ties after a sharp deterioration during the term of the previous conservative government.
Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles this week said “there was a belligerence in the way in which the former government spoke” and his government was looking to change the tone.
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