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Australian PM Albanese on Patch-up Meeting with China’ Xi Jinping

Australian PM Albanese on Patch-up Meeting with China' Jinping

Frenemies at Crossroads: China and Australia

China and Australia, two nations that have been at odds for many years, are now trying to figure out a way to coexist. Their relationship has been complicated, marred by allegations of interference in Australian elections, espionage, and the fallout from the Wuhan’s Covid virus. However, the recent state visit by Australia’s new Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, to China signals a potential thaw in relations.Australian PM Albanese on Patch-up Meeting with China' Jinping

A Complicated Past

China was accused of trying to interfere in Australian elections and even attempting to install a spy in the Australian Parliament. Large scale espionage charges were leveled against China. The situation worsened with the outbreak of the Wuhan virus. Australia was the first to demand answers and called for an international probe into the origins of the virus. This upset Beijing, leading to a Trade War that severely impacted Australia.Australian PM Albanese on Patch-up Meeting with China' Jinping

A New Beginning

Last year, Australia got a new Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, whose mission was to mend what was broken. Albanese is currently in China on a state visit, a significant event considering he is the first Australian Prime Minister to visit China in 7 years. During his visit, he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and they agreed to bury the hatchet.

Australian PM Albanese on Patch-up Meeting with China' Jinping

Albanese stated, “I believe that we can all benefit from the greater understanding that comes from high-level dialogue and People to People links and that a strong relationship between our two countries will be beneficial into the future where differences arise it’s important that we have communication, from communication comes understanding.”Australian PM Albanese on Patch-up Meeting with China' Jinping

This visit coincides with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of ties between China and Australia, a move initiated by then Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. Albanese’s visit did not escape the notice of Xi Jinping, who hailed the visit as a significant step towards improving relations.Australian PM Albanese on Patch-up Meeting with China' Jinping

Jinping stated, “and now we are embracing a new 50 years in China-Australia relations. Your visit this time is highly significant as it builds on the past and ushers in the future. Now the China-Australia relationship has embarked on the right path of improvement and development I am heartened to see that.”Australian PM Albanese on Patch-up Meeting with China' JinpingAustralian PM Albanese on Patch-up Meeting with China' Jinping

The Road to Truce

Before Albanese’s visit, both countries had made significant progress. Australia ended some Anti-Dumping Tariffs on China, and Beijing promised to go easy on Australian Wines. China also released Cheng Lei, an Australian journalist who had spent the last 3 years in Chinese detention. These measures paved the way for a truce, a truce that both sides need.

Australian PM Albanese on Patch-up Meeting with China' Jinping
Cheng Lei, an Australian journalist

When China slapped sanctions on Australia, its key exports were hit. Barley, beef, wine, coal, timber, and lobster all took a hit, causing Australia to suffer serious losses around $20 billion. Canberra wants to resume this trade, and Beijing, an energy-hungry nation, needs Australia’s natural resources like coal and LNG (liquefied natural gas).Australian PM Albanese on Patch-up Meeting with China' Jinping

In 2021 and 2022, Australia’s coal sales to China stopped completely. Now this supply is being resumed. Every month on average, China buys $1 billion worth of Australian coal. It also buys Australian oil, In the first 6 months of 2023, China spent $860 million on this supply. This truce is important as Australia gets back an important export market, and China gets another source of energy.Australian PM Albanese on Patch-up Meeting with China' JinpingAustralian PM Albanese on Patch-up Meeting with China' Jinping

A Costly Compromise

However, this win-win situation comes at a cost. China is expanding its footprint in Australia’s backyard, the Solomon Islands, which used to fall in Australia’s sphere of influence.

Australian PM Albanese on Patch-up Meeting with China' Jinping

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare of the Solomon Islands is leaning towards China and has invited Chinese police forces to maintain law and order during the upcoming Pacific games.Australian PM Albanese on Patch-up Meeting with China' JinpingAustralian PM Albanese on Patch-up Meeting with China' Jinping

Australia has not been sidelined completely though, it is providing security for the games too. But this invitation to the Chinese police will unsettle Canberra.

Australian PM Albanese on Patch-up Meeting with China' Jinping

We’ll have to see how Albanese deals with this. He may have been successful in resetting ties with China, but China’s Pacific games will test the resilience of this reset.

 

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