SYDNEY: Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Saturday his much-anticipated visit to China to meet President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang was a “very positive step” in stabilizing strained bilateral ties.
Albanese, who arrives on Saturday, will be the first Australian leader to visit China since 2016, part of an effort to mend relations that have been strained for several years by disputes over Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, espionage and COVID-19.
“The fact that this is the first visit in seven years to our major trading partner is a very positive step and I look forward to constructive discussions and dialogue with President Xi and Premier Li during my visit,” Albanese said in Darwin, the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory. .
“This is the result of the patient, measured and deliberate approach we take to our relationship with China.”
The Albanian government has taken credit for stabilizing ties with China since taking office last year. China lifted most of the trade blockades imposed in a diplomatic row in 2020 that cost A$20 billion in goods and food exports.
The Australian leader will attend China’s largest import fair in Shanghai on Sunday, which will be opened by Li. He will meet Xi in Beijing on Monday, where the premier said he would express concern over rising tensions in the South China Sea.
He said he would also highlight the case of Australian writer Yang Hengjun, who was jailed in Beijing for four years on espionage charges. “The case must be solved,” Albanese told reporters on Saturday.
He will be joined in Beijing by Foreign Minister Penny Wong before stopping in Tokyo for talks on the sidelines of the Group of Seven meeting, Wong’s office said.
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