Anthony Albanese has landed in China, becoming the first Australian prime minister to set foot in the country in seven years.
The prime minister arrived at Shanghai Hongqiao Airport on Saturday evening, aiming to stabilize relations with Beijing.
He disembarked from his RAAF plane to a red carpet and was greeted by China’s top diplomat in Australia Xiao Qian, Australian Ambassador to China Graham Fletcher and Shanghai Deputy Mayor Xie Dong.
Speaking from the tarmac, Mr Albanese said: “It’s very good to be here, I’m looking forward to this visit.”
A young girl also gave him a bouquet of flowers before leaving in the procession.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese arrives at Shanghai Hongqiao Airport for three-day visit
The three-day visit for high-level talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang comes after the peak of a diplomatic row in 2020, which led Beijing to impose trade bans worth 20 billion dollars on Australian exports.
Speaking before leaving Darwin on Saturday, the Prime Minister said the visit was due to the “patient, calibrated and deliberate approach” taken by his government.
“The fact that this is the first visit in seven years to our largest trading partner is a very positive step and I look forward to constructive discussions and dialogue with President Xi and Premier Li during my visit to Shanghai and Beijing,” he said.
Mr Albanese reaffirmed his desire to increase the detention of Australian writer Yang Hengjun, who spent more than four years behind bars on espionage charges.
The premier was invited to attend the opening banquet of the China International Import Expo hosted by Premier Li on Saturday evening.
Mr Albanese will attend the show on Sunday morning, where around 200 Australian companies will be represented.
The Prime Minister was greeted by a young girl on the tarmac who gave him a bouquet of flowers
He will fly to Beijing overnight, before a meeting with President Xi on Monday evening (AEDT), at the Great Hall of the People.
The next day, he will return to the Chinese seat of power for an official welcome by Premier Li, followed by a working lunch.
The trip takes place to mark the 50th anniversary of Gough Whitlam’s historic visit in 1973, the first by an Australian Prime Minister to China.
Beijing has lifted most of its punitive tariffs on Australian goods, with just $2 billion remaining.
China is reviewing its $1.2 billion ban on Australian wine and is expected to lift sanctions after a five-month process.
The other sanctions apply to lobster and certain slaughterhouses.
Chinese state media hailed the prime minister’s trip as heralding a new starting point for bilateral relations between the two nations.
Australian Ambassador to China Graham Fletcher greets Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (R) after arriving at Shanghai Hongqiao Airport,
But the government is under no illusion that relations will return to the way they were before tensions arose.
Dr Yang’s family pleaded with Mr Albanese in the days leading up to his visit to make it clear to Beijing that relations with Canberra could not be stabilized until the Australian was released from prison.
The prime minister pledged to raise difficult issues, including consular affairs, trade and the South China Sea, during his visit.
China released Australian journalist Cheng Lei after she spent more than three years behind bars before Mr Albanese’s visit.
The prime minister was expected to attend the opening banquet of the China International Import Expo after arriving in Shanghai on Saturday evening.