Albanese to head to China within months after accepting Xi Jinping’s invitation

Save articles for later

Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.

Jakarta: Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced he will accept an invitation from Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit the country this year as he seeks to convince Beijing to drop its remaining sanctions on Australian exports and release detained Australians.

Albanese held a bilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, Beijing’s second-in-command, on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Jakarta on Thursday, raising human rights concerns in China and the plight of three Australians facing the death penalty.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Jakarta.Credit: Twitter

Albanese’s visit to China will make him the first Australian prime minister to travel to the country since Malcolm Turnbull in 2016, before bilateral relations between the two nations plummeted.

“China is a major power with global interest and it is valuable to exchange views on challenges to stability, peace and prosperity in our region,” Albanese told reporters following the meeting with Li.

“Australia seeks to work towards productive and stable relations with China based on mutual benefit and respect.”

Albanese said in a statement that he looked forward to travelling to China to mark the 50th anniversary of former prime minister Gough Whitlam’s historic visit to the country, suggesting it would be around October 31, the date of the anniversary.

Albanese said it was important to visit Beijing because “co-operation and engagement between our two countries is always improved when there is a dialogue, when there is discussion”.

“That is how you get mutual agreement, mutual respect and advance the interests of both our nations,” Albanese said.

Albanese has previously said he intended to travel to China at an appropriate time but had not confirmed he would accept the invitation to visit this year.

The federal opposition called on Albanese to reconsider his travel plans after China placed bounties on Hong Kong activists living in Australia.

Albanese said he had raised the longstanding view that “Australia does not support capital punishment and we will always make representations for Australians who have been given the death
sentence for that to be removed”.

Australian man Karm Gilespie was sentenced to death in 2020 for attempting to smuggle 7.5kg of methamphetamine through a Chinese airport in December 2013.

The identity of the other two Australians on death row in China, believed to be responsible for the world’s largest number of executions, is not known.

Li issued the personal invitation for Albanese to visit China at the opening of the meeting, hailing the “positive momentum of improvement” in the Australia-China relationship since Albanese’s meeting with Xi on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali last November.

“When our relations are good and sound, both peoples benefit and when things are not doing so well, both sides lose from it,” Li said.

“A sound and steady China-Australia relationship serves the fundamental interest and common aspirations of both peoples.”

Australian officials estimate that the value of Chinese trade blockages on Australian goods has fallen from $20.6 billion a year ago to $2.5 billion now, with Chinese restrictions on Australian wine, lobster and beef the major remaining impediments.

Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao has accepted an offer from Trade Minister Don Farrell to visit his vineyard in South Australia for talks but a date has not been locked in.

Albanese will hold a bilateral meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo later on Thursday before heading to Manila to meet with Philippine President Ferdinand “Bong Bong” Marcus jnr.

Cut through the noise of federal politics with news, views and expert analysis. Subscribers can sign up to our weekly Inside Politics newsletter here.

Most Viewed in Politics

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article