China and Australia Cautiously Reach Out After Years of Resentment
By: Grace Zhang
After four years of Australia’s and China’s downward spiral, both countries are trying to fix their relationship with each other back to their original status.
The countries’ relationship began to crumble in 2018 due to increasing concerns about the Chinese political influence in parts of the Australian society including education, media, and government. Both countries’ leaders have signaled that they want to cease the troubles of previous years.
This is likely due to Australia’s new center-left government which came to power in May of 2022.
Xiao Qian, the Australian ambassador for China said that the change of leadership in Canberra was “an opportunity of possible improvement of our bilateral relations. There is every reason for China and Australia to be friends and partners, rather than adversaries.” While saying this, he was rudely interrupted several times by protesters telling China to end its oppression in Tibet, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong. Someone even shouted, “This man should be pariah,” proceeding Mr. Xiao’s comment, “The atmosphere in both countries needs to be improved, that’s a fact.”
Mr. Xiao has done everything he can to express that Beijing wants better relations with Australia: speeches, newspaper commentaries, and even private meetings. Li Keqiang, China’s premier, sent a message to the new prime minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese to congratulate him on his victory election in May. Mr. Albanese has said that he wants to restore high-level communication with China, Australia’s greatest trading partner. But in order for relations to improve, Mr. Albanese says Beijing must improve trade sanctions with Australia: “Already there have been some improvements, But there’s a long way to go.”
The Biden administration is likely to watch carefully for signs of to two nations resuming a harmonious relation.
The ex-prime minister of Australia, Penny Wong, visited four pacific island countries to prove that Australia, not purely China – should be their “partner of choice.”