Chinese premier kicks off Australia visit amid improvement of bilateral relations

ADELAIDE: Chinese Premier Li Qiang arrived in Adelaide on Saturday to kick off his official visit to Australia, following his trip to New Zealand.

The visit, which is the first in seven years by a Chinese premier, shows that the bilateral relations have returned to a normal track following frosty years, analysts said.

Arriving in Adelaide, Li said on Saturday that the exchanges between China and Australia have a long history, and the friendship between the two peoples remains ever new over time. A more mature, stable and fruitful China-Australia comprehensive strategic partnership will be a shared asset for both peoples, Li said, adding that China is willing to work with Australia to that end.

Last year, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese paid a successful visit to China, getting bilateral relations back to the right track after twists and turns, the Chinese premier said. History has proven that mutual respect, seeking common ground while shelving differences, and mutually beneficial cooperation are valuable experience in the development of China-Australia relations, and need to be upheld and carried forward, he noted.

Noting that his visit came on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the China-Australia comprehensive strategic partnership, Li said he looks forward to having in-depth exchanges of views with Australian leaders and friends from all walks of life on China-Australia relations and issues of common concern, as well as jointly discussing cooperation, development and friendship.

This is the second leg of Li’s three-nation tour following his official visit to New Zealand. During his four-day stay, Li and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will co-chair the ninth China-Australia Annual Leaders’ Meeting and jointly attend a China-Australia CEO Roundtable Meeting.

The attendance of both leaders at the roundtable meeting reflects the importance both sides attach to economic and trade exchanges, Chen Hong, director of the Australian Studies Center at East China Normal University, told the Global Times. “In the meantime, avoiding misjudgment, increasing trust and dispelling doubts will also be an important topic of discussion during this visit,” Chen added. As important countries in the Asia-Pacific region, China and Australia need to seek common ground and jointly promote peace and development in the Asia-Pacific region, Chen said.

Chen noted that the Chinese Premier’s visit to Australia symbolizes that China-Australia ties have returned to a normal track after frosty bilateral relations under the government led by Scott Morrison. Albanese’s visit to China last year and Li’s current visit indicates that the annual meeting mechanism between the two countries’ prime ministers has been fully restored, and that bilateral relations are developing and warming up once more.

The current Australian government has demonstrated willingness to improve bilateral relations and has made an effort to bring ties back onto the right track, which can be seen from the meetings between the leaders of both nations in Bali, Indonesia in 2022 and then again during Prime Minister Albanese’s visit to China in 2023, Chen said.

Premier Li’s visit has also received high expectations from the Australian officials. “Premier Li Qiang’s visit to Australia is an important opportunity to engage directly on key issues for both our nations,” Albanese said, as quoted by AP News. “Australia continues to pursue a stable and direct relationship with China, with dialogue at its core.”

At the same time, Australia’s Assistant Defense Minister Matt Thistlethwaite stressed the importance of having a stable relationship with China, while Australian Trade Minister Don Farrell said that there’s a willingness on both sides to remove all of impediments to the relationship, according to local media reports.

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