Australian Financial Review
Marise Payne this week will become the first Australian foreign minister met during a UN conference in New York in August and “exchanged. Tussle with Beijing for influence in region comes as foreign ministers meet. (13 December ) The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has welcomed the ( 14 November ) Today I met with China's Premier, Li Keqiang, for the.
In the first meeting between the two countries' foreign ministers in almost three years, China also signalled it was willing to work more closely with Canberra to further develop trade and economic ties.
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China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said he was happy to see Pacific Island countries having "more friends across the world" and said China and Australia should cooperate in the region. The meeting in Beijing between Marise Payne and Wang Yi was the first by the two countries' foreign ministers in almost three years. This kind of trilateral cooperation could become a new highlight, a new area in china-Australia cooperation.
The move is seen as a counter to China's growing influence in the region. The exchange took place against the backdrop of a thaw in Sino-Australian relations following the ousting of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull two months ago. The Chinese Foreign Minister, who has a reputation for taking Australian foreign ministers to task when they visit Beijing, even gave the visiting delegation a rare smile. We are confident Australia will translate its positive will of growing relations with China into actual actions," Mr Wang said.
He noted "positive comments" about Australia's relationship with China in recent speeches by Mr Morrison and Ms Payne which "set the tone for your trip this time".
China and Australia to co-operate in 'trilateral' approach to South Pacific
Advertisement The meeting was a contrast to former foreign minister Julie Bishop's last visit to Beijing in February when Mr Wang rebuked Australia over its defence links with Japan.
The meeting is seen as a breakthrough in Australia's strained relationship with Beijing over the past 18 months which saw Beijing refuse visas for some officials. Trade Minister Simon Birmingham was also in China this week where he met the country's Commerce Minister at an import-themed expo in Shanghai. But the main course will come in a week's time, when Scott Morrison heads to Singapore, then Papua New Guinea via a one day stopover in Darwin for back-to-back leaders' summits, where he will have the opportunity to meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and then Xi at the East Asia Summit and the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit respectively.
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Morrison laid down a marker on Thursday, where he acknowledged the strategic competition between the US and China would intensify. Morrison reaffirmed the primacy of a strong, regionally engaged America to Australia's national interest but emphasised it was crucial the US-China relationship did not become defined by confrontation. During a series of briefings for Australian journalists with Chinese government and Communist Party officials, newspaper editors and think-tanks last week, the vibe from Beijing was cautious optimism that Morrison's rise to the prime ministership represented a much needed circuit breaker.
While noting that Malcolm Turnbull had taken steps to patch up the relationship in the dying weeks of his prime ministership, many officials reacted positively to a speech Morrison gave to a Chinese community group in Sydney where he praised the contribution of Chinese-Australians and treated the relationship with respect.
Officials were also well-informed about the Liberal Party's loss of the Wentworth byelection, and curious to know what minority government would mean and how it would influence Morrison's approach to decision making.
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Even so, sore points remain. Fury over Australia's foreign interference laws, designed to curb Chinese influence in domestic politics, has dissipated to a sense of "pained bewilderment" that Australia could regard Chinese people with suspicion.
I don't know if you understand the other side's feeling," says Dr Ruan Zongze, executive vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, a Beijing-based think tank affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Chinese officials also insisted their foreign aid spending in the South Pacific was not an attempt to usurp Australian influence in the region, and their militarisation of the South China Sea was simply necessary for China's self-defence.
And Beijing is lobbying Canberra to reverse its ban on national security grounds against Huawei's participation in the roll out of the 5G network. Australian media coverage also remains a target of Chinese hostility, with frequent gripes that journalists do not understand China.