Published: 10:02, November 8, 2023 | Updated: 10:07, November 8, 2023
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China, Australia agree to further stabilize, develop relations
By Xu Wei

Premier Li Qiang holds a welcoming ceremony for visiting Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the Great Hall of the People ahead of their talks in Beijing on Tuesday. (WANG ZHUANGFEI / CHINA DAILY)

Beijing and Canberra have agreed to keep building up engagement in political dialogue, trade, response to climate change and people-to-people exchanges as both sides pledged to continue stabilizing and developing bilateral ties, according to a joint statement released on Tuesday.

The two nations released the statement following a meeting in Beijing between Premier Li Qiang and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who wrapped up a four-day official visit to China on Tuesday.

The two sides "agreed that both nations could grow the bilateral relationship and uphold their respective national interests if they navigated their differences wisely", the statement said.

Meanwhile, the two nations pledged to resume government-to-government mechanisms, including the annual leaders' meeting between the Chinese premier and the Australian prime minister, as they sought to continue their political dialogue.

To further facilitate trade and economic links, both sides vowed to work toward memorandums of understanding on standards, measurement, intellectual property, competition, education and food safety, while highlighting the need to collaborate on climate change, energy and environment.

During his talks with Albanese in the Great Hall of the People, Li stressed Beijing's readiness to work with Canberra in the spirit of mutual respect and understanding to further strengthen dialogue and communication, deepen political mutual trust and properly handle differences.

He said the two sides should make cooperation the mainstream of China-Australia relations and ensure that win-win outcomes are achieved in various fields of cooperation.

Li highlighted the enormous potential for bilateral cooperation, saying that China is willing to work with Australia to consolidate and strengthen cooperation in traditional areas such as energy and resources, and build up cooperation over green development, the digital economy, technological innovation and the healthcare sector.

He underlined Beijing's readiness to promote bilateral exchanges and cooperation in education, culture, tourism and youth, and at subnational levels, as well as further facilitate people-to-people exchanges.

According to the media statement, the two sides agreed to provide access to three to five-year multipleentry visas for visitors and business people on a reciprocal basis.

Albanese told Li that his visit is about taking forward a relationship that has, over the five decades since Edward Gough Whitlam's China visit, the first by an Australian prime minister, "delivered so much for the peoples of both of our countries".

"As nations with different histories, political systems and values, Australia and China will, though, not be defined by our differences, but will be defined by how we can work through these issues," he said, according to an official transcript of the meeting.

"Our proximity, our economic complementarities, and close people-to-people ties make us important partners now and into the future. That is why the full resumption of free and unimpeded trade between our two countries is so important," he said.

In a news conference following the meeting, Albanese described the visit as "very successful" and the dialogue with Li as "very constructive".

"Dialogue is always a good thing. And when China represents more than one in four of our export dollars and more than one in four of Australian jobs depends upon our exports, this is an important relationship," he told reporters.

He also said he looks forward to continued engagement with China in areas of mutual interest and in support of regional stability and security. "This is one of Australia's most important relationships. … It strengthens our economy, helps to support jobs and helps to support business, and it sets our nation up for a safe and a prosperous future."

Analysts have described the visit by Albanese as one that marked a further thaw in relations between Beijing and Canberra, after ties stumbled in recent years amid trade issues and other challenges.

Zhu Feng, dean of the School of International Studies at Nanjing University, said the visit by Albanese signaled that the two nations have turned the page on a chapter of turbulent political and trade ties over the past years and ushered in a new stage of relations.

"The constructive and strategic policy choice by the Australian government will undoubtedly serve the interests of both nations and regional peace and cooperation," he said.

Zhang Jie, a researcher at the National Institute of International Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the thaw in ties between China and Australia showed the significance of pragmatism in steadying ties in the Asia-Pacific.

"It showed that economic decoupling and the overstretching of security issues go against the interests of all nations," she said.