Anthony Albanese announced that Australia will work with China when possible and disagree when necessary, while also prioritizing their own national interests. This statement was made as the prime minister traveled to the People’s Republic for a significant three-day official trip.
On Saturday evening, Albanese arrived in Shanghai and was welcomed by high-ranking diplomats from both nations at the airport. He then proceeded to attend a banquet, hosted by China’s premier Li Qiang, to inaugurate the China International Import Expo held in downtown Shanghai.
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After attending the banquet, the prime minister informed reporters that Australia’s national interest is best served by maintaining a positive, cooperative, respectful, and open communication with China – our largest trading ally.
The prime minister expressed their goal for the upcoming days.
The Albanese administration has received backlash for maintaining a busy itinerary of global trips while Australians struggle with financial strains. On Saturday evening, the prime minister acknowledged that China is Australia’s top trading ally and emphasized that a quarter of jobs in the country rely on trade.
This will be the initial trip by an Australian prime minister to China since 2016. Albanese is scheduled to have meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday and the premier on Tuesday while in Beijing.
The purpose of the visit is to repair the diplomatic ties following a tumultuous period that started when Australia chose to ban Chinese company Huawei from participating in the 5G network implementation in 2018. The tension between the two countries escalated into a trade dispute after former prime minister Scott Morrison called for an impartial inquiry into the origins of the pandemic in 2020.
The prime minister will participate in the trade expo in Shanghai on Sunday. They will also meet with business leaders from Australia and China at a function hosted by Tourism Australia. The evening will then be spent traveling to Beijing.
Albanese has flagged that he intends to raise human rights and consular issues during this visit. On Saturday, before he left Australia, Albanese was asked what he would say to China’s premier and president about the writer, Yang Hengjun, who has been detained for four years.
Albanese said: “I’ll be saying that Dr Yang’s case needs to be resolved. And I’ll be speaking about his human rights, the nature of the detention and the failure to have transparent processes.
“We will always raise the issues of Australian citizens when we meet with international leaders. That is something that we do consistently, and I will do it again in a way that is aimed at achieving an outcome in the interests of Dr Yang and his family.”