News National Australia will raise China issues: PM
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Australia will raise China issues: PM

Anthony Albanese
Anthony Albanese says Australia wants to seek cooperation and positive relations with China. Photo: AAP
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Anthony Albanese says Australia will still raise issues with China on trade sanctions and human rights issues as diplomatic talks resume between the two nations.

Coming off the back of a meeting between Foreign Minister Penny Wong and her Chinese counterpart last week, the prime minister said China should be welcoming Australian trade, rather than imposing sanctions on it.

“What we’ve done is put forward our position honestly and clearly and we’ll continue to do so,” Mr Albanese told ABC Radio on Wednesday.

“There’s no ambiguity about our position, and we’ll continue to raise human rights issues of Australians who have been unfairly detained in China.

“We’ll continue to raise the economic sanctions that are being held against Australian businesses, they are costing jobs in Australia and costing economic growth.”

China imposed multiple trade sanctions on Australia during a diplomatic deep freeze, including on goods such as barley, coal and wine.

The meeting of foreign ministers was the first time face-to-face talks have taken place between the two in three years.

Chinese state newspaper The Global Times said after the meeting that while Australia had shown intentions to ease ties with China, there were still “minefields” in the bilateral relationship.

Mr Albanese said there was no reason for the trade sanctions to be in place, given a free-trade agreement between Australia and China was already set up,

“(The sanctions) are also hurting China, Australian produce like meat and wine and seafood is the best in the world, and what they should be doing is welcoming that trade, rather than having these ongoing sanctions against it,” he said.

“China needs to acknowledge that there’s no justification for this, and remove it.”

Following the talks with China, the prime minister indicated there would be a slow change to the relationship, with the ministerial meetings just a step forward.

He said Australia would still prosecute its national interests towards China, but wanted the countries to be able to work together on issues.

“I want to see more cooperation between Australia and China, I want us to cooperate wherever we can, but we will stand up for Australia’s national interest when we must,” Mr Albanese said.

Opposition defence spokesman Andrew Hastie told a forum in London authoritarian powers were “looking to reshape the world order and bend it to their liking”.

“The PRC (People’s Republic of China) has used economic coercion to compel our political leadership to lift the ban on Huawei and ZTE participation in our 5G network,” he said.

“The Chinese ambassador in November 2020 even handed 14 points of grievance to an Australian journalist: a laundry list of strategic demands from the PRC.

“We have not conceded one point, as it is not in our sovereign interest to do so.”

He said Australia had only been able to stand firm because of the strength of its relationships across the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.

“Our values, shared with our friends, have been a force multiplier. And our best strategy is to stand together.”

– AAP