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Australia and China have been at odds for quite some time now. When COVID hit in 2020, Australia’s previous leader Morrison called for an investigation into the origins of the virus. With that, Beijing put trade restrictions on several major Australian exports like red wine. (China is Australia’s largest trading partner.) Now that a new leader has landed down under, he’s been trying to repair the strained relationship. But they’re essentially both still butting heads over who started the fight in the first place.
On Friday, the two countries’ foreign ministers met at the G20 meeting in Bali for the first time since 2019, with Australia issuing a statement afterward saying, “We have our differences, but it is in both our countries’ interests for the relationship to be stabilised." China also issued a statement, saying that for the two to move forward, among other things, Australia “must treat China as a partner, rather than a rival." But Albanese didn’t take it well, saying on Monday that Australia “doesn’t respond to demands."
“Today I met with China’s State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi, at the conclusion of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Bali … We spoke frankly and listened carefully to each other’s priorities and concerns … We have our differences, but it is in both our countries’ interests for the relationship to be stabilised," said Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong.
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi explained that Australia must take certain “concrete actions" to improve relations between the two countries. “First, stick to regarding China as a partner rather than a rival. Second, stick to the way we get along with each other, which features seeking common ground while reserving differences. Third, stick to not targeting any third party or being controlled by any third party. Fourth, stick to building positive and pragmatic social foundations and public support."
“Australia doesn’t respond to demands. We respond to our own national interest. I’ll say this, we will cooperate with China where we can. I want to build good relations with all countries, but we will stand up for Australia’s interests when we must," said Australian PM Albanese.