Mon. Dec 11th, 2023

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Friday he had invited China’s Premier Li Qiang to visit, as a long-stormy relationship improves.

Albanese, who visited Beijing in early November, saw Chinese leader Xi Jinping for the second time this month at a Pacific Rim summit in San Francisco.

“It was positive. We spoke (about) Premier Li coming to Australia next year now that the latest meetings have been resumed,” Albanese told reporters at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

Albanese said he also asked Xi to remove remaining trade restrictions on Australian products.

China is Australia’s biggest trading partner but relations plummeted in 2020 when Beijing exerted major economic pressure — in what was seen as the rising Asian power sending a warning to other Western nations.

Australia’s then conservative government, in line with US stances, had barred Chinese tech giant Huawei from 5G contracts and called for an inquiry into the origins of Covid-19, which was first detected in China.

China responded by imposing punitive tariffs on a variety of Australian commodities including coal, barley and wine.

China has reversed course and removed most restrictions since Albanese, of the Labor Party, took office in May last year.

Xi, welcoming Albanese in Beijing, said the two countries could become “trusting partners” on a range of issues.

Xi also met on the sidelines of APEC with other leaders with whom he has deep differences, including US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Some observers see Xi as trying to show a softer side as he seeks to focus on the strong economic headwinds in China.

©️ Agence France-Presse

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