In May 2021, China’s top economic planner suspended all activity under a China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue which was an important forum for Australia and China to work through issues relevant to the bilateral economic partnership.
The Chinese statement said Australia was also willing to work with China to enhance mutual trust and resolve differences through candid dialogue.
In addition, China attached great importance to Canberra’s security review of Chinese companies’ investment and operations in Australia, expecting Canberra to provide a fair, open and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese firms.
Wang described China and Australia as important economic and trade partners, with a highly complementary economic structure, making cooperation mutually beneficial.
The exchanges between the two ministers were “professional, pragmatic and candid”, according to the statement.
Farrell said had agreed to an in-person meeting with Wang in Beijing in the near future.
In December 2022, in a first in four years, Australia’s foreign minister visited China in a bid to improve ties after the relationship between the two countries hit rock bottom in recent times.
Penny Wong’s visit to Beijing gained all the more significance as it comes on the anniversary of the establishment of 50 years of official diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Her visit has raised hopes of an end to import blockades imposed by Beijing and the possible release of two Australian citizens detained in China. Wong said she would continue to advocate for Australians held in China without giving details.
The trip also signals a thaw in relations between the two nations since Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese won an election in May, replacing the more confrontational Scott Morrison in the top role.
QUAD, trade disputes: How Australia irked China
However, shortly after being elected, Albanese attended the summit of QUAD along with Indian PM Narendra Modi, US president Joe Biden, and Japanese PM Fumio Kishida.
The QUAD which is also called ‘Asian NATO’ seeks to counter growing Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific.
Albanese has also said he remained committed to building a fleet of submarines powered by US nuclear technology despite the French president describing the plan as a “confrontation with China.”
Reasons, why relations between Australia and China worsened, go beyond the realms of politics.
Australia became the first country to ban Chinese state-owned telecom giant Huawei from rolling out 5G services over security concerns.
But a major factor that affected ties between the two was when Australia became the first country to demand an independent probe into the origins of the coronavirus whose first case was reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Australia established diplomatic relations with the Republic of China in 1941, but those were severed following the Communist Party’s overthrow of the Nationalist government in 1949 and were not restored until 1972.
With inputs from agencies
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