CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Friday he will ask Chinese President Xi Jinping to lift billions of dollars in trade barriers if the two leaders hold their first bilateral meeting this month. Month Jis.
Albanese was speaking in Sydney before departing Australia on Friday for an East Asia Summit in Cambodia, followed by a Group of 20 meeting in Indonesia and then a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Thailand.
A face-to-face meeting between the leaders of China and Australia would mark a major renewal in a bilateral relationship that has deepened under the nine-year rule of Australia’s previous conservative government.
Beijing has banned contacts between ministers and imposed a series of formal and informal trade barriers on products such as wine, coal, beef, seafood and barley in recent years that have cost Australian exporters A$20 billion (13 billion dollars) annually.
Albanese said a meeting with Xi was “not locked in at this time.” However, the lifting of economic sanctions by China was the first priority for a return to normal relations, he said.
“It is not in the interests of Australia, the wine industry, the meat industry and other industries where sanctions have been imposed. But it’s also not in China’s interest,” Albanese told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
“This is a counterproductive measure,” Albanese added.
Asked what China wanted from Australia to improve relations, Albanese replied: “It’s not for me to make their case.”
“What I want to see with the relationship with China is cooperation where … we keep our Australian values where they should be,” Albanese said.
Bilateral relations have been strained by issues including Australia’s demands for an independent investigation into the COVID-19 pandemic, a ban on Chinese telecoms giant Huawei’s involvement in Australia’s 5G networks on security grounds and recent laws banning covert foreign interference in domestic politics .
China’s ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian said in August that Beijing would discuss with Australia whether conditions were right in November for the Albanian to meet with Xi at the G-20 summit. Xi is not expected to attend the East Asia Summit.
China’s English-language newspaper People’s Daily reported this week that there were “signs of a reset in bilateral relations” since the Albanian’s center-left Workers’ Party took power in May.
The White House confirmed that President Joe Biden will 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 2021.
The meeting comes as competition for influence among the South Pacific island nations grows between China and the United States, with its allies including Australia, after Beijing struck a security deal with the Solomon Islands earlier this year. year that has raised fears of a Chinese naval base. settled in the area.
Albanese said Australia has “strategic competition in the region” with China.
“China, of course, has changed its position. And it’s much more progressive than it was in the past,” Albanese said.
“This has caused tensions in the relationship and we have to recognize that this is the context in which the relationship exists,” he added.