Following years of strained relations between Canberra and Beijing, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has declared that meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping would be a “positive thing.”
Albanese spoke to journalists in Canberra “I’ve made it very clear that dialogue is a good thing and if a meeting is arranged with Xi, then that would be a positive thing.”
“We’re organising a range of meetings but they haven’t been finalised,” Albanese stated.
The timing of Albanese’s remarks coincides with speculation that the Australian leader may meet Xi for the first time in person at one of this month’s high-profile international summits, such as the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia.
The presence of Xi at the East Asia Conference in Cambodia and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bangkok is still unknown, according to Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who announced this week that Xi would attend the G20 summit.
According to China’s foreign ministry, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi informed his Australian colleague Penny Wong on Tuesday that recent “good improvements” had occurred in the bilateral relationship and that both parties should resolve each other’s “legitimate concerns.”
After Albanese’s center-left Labor Party won the federal election in May, the Chinese ambassador to Australia recommended in September that the two leaders may meet without any restrictions to “perhaps rebuild the relationship.”
Albanese, the Liberal Party’s replacement for the conservative Scott Morrison, declared earlier this year that his country will collaborate with China “where we can,” but that it would not give in to pressure or disregard its own national interests.
Since Morrison spoke with Xi outside of the G20 conference in Osaka, Japan, in 2019, no Australian president has met with the Chinese president.
Australia’s largest trading partner is China, although tensions between the two countries have risen recently as a result of disagreements including the COVID-19 epidemic, commerce, national security, and human rights.