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Wang wraps up tour of New Zealand, Australia

Experts say visit signals stabilization of bilateral relations, will boost trade ties

By KARL WILSON in Sydney | China Daily | Updated: 2024-03-22 10:12
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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi wrapped up a highly successful tour of New Zealand and Australia on Thursday with a private meeting in Sydney alongside former Labor prime minister Paul Keating after a tight schedule.

Although there were no major announcements, analysts say the visit was a further sign of the stabilization of the Australia-China relationship under the Labor government headed by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

James Laurenceson, director of the Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney, said Wang's trip was significant in that it was the first in seven years.

"When it came to the Australia-China relationship specifically, listening to him talk was almost a carbon copy of what our Foreign Minister (Penny Wong) has been saying," Laurenceson told China Daily.

After the seventh China-Australia Foreign and Strategic Dialogue in Canberra on Wednesday, Wang said the mutual trust between the two countries will increase and China-Australia relations will move forward, according to a statement released by China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"This is the value of enhancing communication and the positive process of continuously increasing trust and dispelling misgivings."

Wang said he hopes the momentum of "good interaction" can be sustained.

The foreign minister's visit to Australia coincided with the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the China-Australia comprehensive strategic partnership.

"The ups and downs of the past decade have not only left both sides with lessons to learn from, but also accumulated experience worth cherishing," Wang said.

"The most fundamental thing is to uphold mutual respect. China never interferes in Australia's internal affairs and respects the system and path chosen by Australia. Similarly, regarding China's sovereignty, dignity and legitimate concerns, the Chinese side hopes the Australian side will continue to honor the commitments it has made since the establishment of diplomatic relations and respect and properly handle them."

The most important thing is to pursue "mutual benefit and win-win results", he said.

Wong, the Australian foreign minister, praised renewed "stability" in bilateral relations and said it was crucial to recognize "how much progress we have made in a short period of time".

Better business position

Hans Hendrischke, professor of Chinese Business and Management at the University of Sydney, said Wang's visit will also improve Australia's trade and business position.

"The improvement of business relations is one of the main purposes of such visits," Hendrischke told China Daily.

Australia is hoping for an early end to the remaining trade obstacles that emerged when bilateral relations soured with the former conservative government.

There is speculation that China's final decision on lifting its tariffs on wine is due by March 31. It is reported that in an interim determination last week, Chinese authorities said the tariffs were no longer necessary.

China will make an objective, fair and impartial ruling based on the review results of the claims and evidence of all interested parties, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said.

"The improvement of business relations covers a much wider range of issues that the press is focusing on," Hendrischke said, adding China and Australia need to normalize their investment relations that have deteriorated badly especially since pandemic disruptions.

"Science and technology cooperation is another future-oriented agenda point, as is the extent to which Australia will follow the lead of the United States in blocking Chinese access to technologies and market," he said.

"Last not least, mutual media access, cultural exchange and easing of visa restrictions are important for improving relations in general."

Wong said her meeting with Wang during the latter's visit was the latest in the process of achieving a "stable relationship" between the two countries.

Wang arrived in Australia after meeting with his New Zealand counterpart Winston Peters and Prime Minister Christopher Luxon.

In a statement released by China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday, Wang said: "Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and New Zealand, despite changes in global and regional situations, bilateral relations have maintained a sound momentum of development and become a factor of stability in the world."

Agencies contributed to this story.

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