Australia’s relationship with China, which has been frozen for almost three years, is beginning to show signs of thawing after a message from the Chinese premier to the new prime minister, Anthony Albanese.
As Albanese flew to Tokyo for the crucial Quad leaders’ summit with Japan, the United States and India, China’s Premier Li Keqiang congratulated him on winning the election.
Australia’s relations with China, already on a downward spiral, became increasingly strained in April 2020 when Australia backed a global investigation into the origins of Covid-19.
This led to massive tariffs of up to 200 per cent on many Australian exports to China, including wine, barley and wool, making it uneconomic for many exporters.
Australia’s new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is pictured arriving in Tokyo on May 23, 2022 for a summit with American, Japanese and Indian leaders, known as the Quad.
Prime Minister Li’s conversation with Scott Morrison in Singapore in late 2018 was the last time he and an Australian leader spoke.
But according to state news agency Xinhua, Li’s message to Albanese emphasized the need for healthy relations between China and Australia, saying it would lead to peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.
He said the Labor Party under then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam had “made the right decision” in 1972 by severing ties with Taiwan to recognize the People’s Republic of China.
Li said this had made “a historic contribution to the development of China-Australia relations”.
However, despite reaching out and seeking a new beginning, China feels threatened by the Quad group.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned on Monday that the “Cold War mentality” of the United States and its allies was undermining Asia’s “peace and prosperity.”
China’s anger was stoked after US President Joe Biden, in a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, said the US had “committed” to use military force to defend Taiwan if China tried to take over. island by force.
China banned all ministerial contact with the Morrison government in January 2020, while Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs reportedly assessed that Beijing was content to wait until power changed hands in Canberra.
Chinese President Xi Jinping appears at left, followed by Premier Li Keqiang, second from left. Li congratulated Anthony Albanese on becoming Prime Minister
But The Albanian government has been warned in some quarters not to rush into a reset with China.
“Any such approach should be treated with a healthy dose of caution and skepticism; China’s intention would be to reorient the relationship on terms more favorable to itself,” said Richard Maude, a former senior Australian diplomat, now at the Asia Society. Australia. he said The Australian.
Chinese English-language newspaper The Global Times said Albanese’s election marked “a turning point for the China-Australia relationship, which is currently at a low point.”
Anthony Albanese is pictured arriving in Tokyo for a Quad meeting with the leaders of Japan, India and the United States.
But on Monday he was once again a cautionary tale, saying Albanese’s attendance at the Quad meeting was “the first test of the political wisdom of the new Australian government”.
While flying to Tokyo, Albanese spoke with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and affirmed his government’s support for the AUKUS security partnership that Morrison formed with the UK and the United States.