Australia and China are set to resume their annual leaders’ meetings after a successful meeting between the prime minister and China’s second-in-command, further thawing frozen relations between the two countries.
Chinese Premier Li Qiang announced the resumption of regular talks after meeting with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Tuesday.
Mr Albanese previously said he would ask Premier Li to resume the annual dialogues, which failed due to disputes between China and the former government over the origins of Covid-19.
The last formal annual leaders’ meeting took place in November 2019, when Scott Morrison met Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang in Bangkok.
Anthony Albanese met Chinese Premier Li Qiang during his visit to China, where locals called him the handsome boy from Australia.
Mr Albanese also turned heads in his Matildas World Cup jersey while out and about in Shanghai.
Mr. Albanese was greeted by hundreds of military personnel for an elaborate welcome ceremony before his meeting with Premier Li on Tuesday.
The Chinese leader told reporters he considered Mr Albanese an “old friend” after meeting him four times in the past year.
He said Mr Albanese’s visit had circulated widely on Chinese social media, including a video of the prime minister running in a yellow jersey which had attracted the attention of local residents.
“People said we had a handsome boy from Australia,” Premier Li told reporters.
Mr Albanese said he welcomed the resumption of leadership talks, but also indicated he would continue to push for China to lift remaining trade bans on Australian exports.
“Our proximity, our economic complementarities and our close ties between people make us important partners, today and in the future,” he said.
“This is why the full resumption of free and unfettered trade between our two countries is so important.”
Mr Albanese (right) received a welcome ceremony with Chinese Premier Li Qiang (left) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing
The resumption of leadership talks follows an hour-long meeting between Mr Albanese and President Xi Jinping on Monday, which marked the first visit by an Australian prime minister to China in seven years.
Mr Albanese hailed the conversation as “very fruitful”, with the two leaders discussing human rights, escalating threats against Taiwan and trade sanctions.
The prime minister is due to leave China on Tuesday evening, marking the end of his three-day visit.