Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese embarked on a historic visit to China, becoming the first Australian leader to do so in seven years. During his address at the annual China International Import Expo in Shanghai, Albanese emphasized the importance of a bilateral relationship marked by dialogue and cooperation, stating that it is "in all our interests."
Albanese expressed Australia's commitment to continuing constructive engagement with China, reinforcing the notion of fostering a positive relationship between the two nations. His short speech was delivered at the Expo's opening ceremony, which was presided over by Premier Li Qiang.
This visit by Albanese signifies a significant effort to mend relations between Australia and China, which had deteriorated over the years due to disputes involving Chinese telecoms firm Huawei, espionage allegations, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following his speech, Albanese, alongside Trade Minister Don Farrell, engaged with the media and welcomed Premier Li's remarks at the Expo, describing them as "very positive." Premier Li had announced China's plans to expand market access and imports.
Trade Minister Farrell, who had met with his Chinese counterpart the previous day, expressed optimism about the removal of impediments on Australian seafood and red meat products in the near future.
Albanese characterized the bilateral relationship as "mature" in his speech, highlighting its vitality due to the complementary nature of both countries' economies. He stressed the importance of rules-based trade in fostering certainty and stability, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Australian government, under Albanese's leadership since last year, has been actively working to stabilize its relationship with China. China has already lifted most of the trade restrictions imposed during a diplomatic dispute in 2020, which resulted in a $20 billion loss in commodity and food exports for Australia.
Albanese is scheduled to meet with President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Monday, where he intends to raise concerns about escalating tensions in the South China Sea. Upon arriving in Shanghai, he expressed Australia's interest in fostering positive and constructive dialogue with its significant trading partner.
Albanese had previously described this much-anticipated visit as a "very positive step" toward stabilizing the strained bilateral ties between Australia and China.