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Australia and China Agree to Patch Things Up

By: Sarah Zhong

Four years after Australia’s relationship with China swiftly worsened, with Australia appearing as an energetic counterweight to Beijing’s growing power, both countries have agreed to try to ease the tension.

Since Australia’s brand-new government came to power last month, the leaders in the two countries have indicated that they want to improve their relationship. Their arguments over technology, trade barriers, Chinese influence on Australian politics, and each country’s military plans have caused diplomatic disdain.

China’s ambassador to Australia, Xiao Qian, said last Friday that the change of leadership in Australia was an “opportunity of possible improvement of our bilateral relations.” Mr. Xiao, while giving a speech at the University of Technology Sydney, said, “There is every reason for China and Australia to be friends and partners, rather than adversaries.” Later, Mr. Xiao said, “The atmosphere in both countries needs to be improved, that’s a fact.”

“Mr. Xiao has used speeches, newspaper commentaries, and private meetings to make overtures that Beijing wants better relations,” a New York Times article says. “China’s premier, Li Keqiang, sent a congratulatory note to Australia’s new prime minister, Anthony Albanese, after his May election victory and called for ‘sound and stable’ ties.”

Mr. Albanese has said that he wants to restore high-level communications with China, his country’s largest trading partner. He said that Beijing must lift trade sanctions on Australia, however. “Already there have been some improvements,” Mr. Albanese said recently of ties with China. “But there’s a long way to go.”

Governments around Asia are likely to watch closely for concrete signs of reunion between the two. The previous prime minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, strengthened Canberra’s relations with Washington and declared that he was showing the way in standing up to China. Mr. Albanese and his ministers have said they would keep that arrangement and continue pressing China over its military buildup.

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