Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese yesterday said he would ask Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) to lift billions of dollars in trade barriers if the two leaders hold their first bilateral meeting this month.
Albanese was speaking in Sydney before departing Australia yesterday for the East Asia Summit in Cambodia, followed by a G20 meeting in Indonesia, then an APEC forum meeting in Thailand.
A face-to-face meeting between the Chinese and Australian leaders would mark a major reset in a bilateral relationship that plumbed new depths under the nine-year rule of Australia’s previous conservative government.
Beijing had banned minister-to-minister contacts and imposed a series of official and unofficial trade barriers on products including wine, coal, beef, seafood and barley in recent years, which cost Australian exporters A$20 billion (US$13.28 billion) a year.
Albanese said a meeting with Xi was “not locked in at this point in time.”
However, China lifting economic sanctions would be the first priority in returning to normal relations, he said.
“We have some A$20 billion of economic sanctions against Australia. That is not in Australia’s interest in terms of our jobs and the economy, but it’s also not in China’s interest.” Albanese said.
“Australia has world class products — in seafood, in meat, in wine, in other products that we export to China. It’s in China’s interest to receive those products, it’s in Australia’s interest to export them. So I’m very hopeful. We’ll continue to put our case that these sanctions are not justified, that they need to be removed,” Albanese added.
Asked what China wanted from Australia to improve relations, Albanese said: “It’s not up to me to put forward their case.”
“What I want to see with the relationship with China is cooperation where we ... maintain our Australian values where we must,” Albanese said.
Bilateral relations soured over issues including Australian demands for an independent inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic, a ban on Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei’s involvement in the Australian 5G networks on security grounds and recent laws that ban covert foreign interference in domestic politics.
Chinese Ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian (肖千) said in August that Beijing would discuss with Australia whether conditions were right in November for Albanese to meet Xi during the G20 summit. Xi is not expected to attend the East Asia Summit.
China’s People’s Daily reported this week that “signs of resetting bilateral ties have emerged” since Albanese’s center-left Labor Party came to power in May.
The White House has confirmed that US President Joe Biden plans to hold talks with Xi on Monday on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Indonesia, their first face-to-face meeting since Biden became president in January last year.
The meeting would come as competition for influence among South Pacific island nations heightens between China and the US, along with allies including Australia. Beijing in June struck a security pact with the Solomon Islands that has raised fears of a Chinese naval base being established in the region.
Albanese said Australia has “strategic competition in the region” with China.
“China, of course, has changed its position, and it is much more forward-leaning than it was in the past,” Albanese said.
“That has caused tensions in the relationship, and we need to acknowledge that that’s the context in which the relationship exists,” he added.
Over a few hours under gray skies, dozens of combat planes and helicopters roar on and off the flight deck of the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier, in a demonstration of US military power in some of the world’s most hotly contested waters. MH-60 Seahawk helicopters and F/A-18 Hornet jets bearing pilot call signs such as “Fozzie Bear,” “Pig Sweat” and “Bongoo” emit deafening screams as they land in the drizzle on the Nimitz, which is leading a carrier strike group that entered the South China Sea two weeks ago. US Rear Admiral Christopher Sweeney, who is commanding the group, said the tour
Sitting in a lotus position, four men weave glittering beads through gold thread on an organza sheet, carefully constructing a wedding dress that would soon wow crowds at Paris Fashion Week. For once, the French couturier behind the design, Julien Fournie, is determined to put these craftsmen in the spotlight. His new collection, which showed in Paris on Tuesday, was entirely made with fabrics from Mumbai. He said that a sort of “design imperialism” means that French fashion houses often play down that their fabrics are made outside France. “The houses which don’t admit it are perhaps afraid of losing their clientele,” Fournie
A court in Thailand sentenced a 27-year-old political activist to 28 years in prison on Thursday for posting messages on Facebook that it said defamed the country’s monarchy, while two young women charged with the same offense continued a hunger strike after being hospitalized. The court in the northern province of Chiang Rai found that Mongkhon Thirakot contravened the lese majeste law in 14 of 27 posts for which he was arrested in August last year. The law covers the king, queen and heirs, and any regent. The lese majeste law carries a prison term of three to 15 years per incident for
INSTABILITY: The country has seen a 33 percent increase in land that cultivates poppies since the military took over the government in 2021, a UN report said The production of opium in Myanmar has flourished since the military’s seizure of power, with the cultivation of poppies up by one-third in the past year, as eradication efforts have dropped and the faltering economy has led more people toward the drug trade, a UN report released yesterday showed. Last year, the first full growing season since the military wrested control of the country from the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in 2021, saw a 33 percent increase in Myanmar’s cultivation area to 40,100 hectares, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime report said. “Economic, security and governance disruptions