Posted Feb 6. 2023 at 12:53
China and Australia have taken another step in warming their relations. On Monday, Chinese Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao invited his Australian counterpart Don Farrell to visit China “in the near future”.
The invitation was made during a video conference in which the two men participated and marked the first official contact at this level in nearly three years. If, at the end of this meeting, Don Farrell confirms his acceptance of the invitation, no further details or timetable will be disclosed.
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This will be the first visit by an Australian trade minister since 2019. The second by a member of the Australian government in a few months. Last December, the head of Australian diplomacy, Penny Wong, actually visited Beijing on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Monday’s meeting was all the more symbolic because it comes as relations with Washington, Canberra’s historic ally, sour after the spy balloon case that was shot down by the US Air Force. An incident that prompted Anthony Blinken to cancel his trip to China indefinitely.
But it is clear that Beijing did not want to use this incident as an excuse to suspend the process of warming relations that began last November. At that time, President Xi Jinping and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali.
This meeting, the first since 2019, has already made it possible to start the warming process. Thus began negotiations within the World Trade Organization (WTO) to resolve some of the trade disputes. The first shipment of Australian coal could be delivered to China this week.
If Don Farrell called the meeting that he held on Monday morning “an important step in the normalization of relations” between the two countries, the two ministers nevertheless wanted to show their caution. Don Farrell warned that the trade disputes that are poisoning relations between the two countries “will not be resolved quickly.” “I think our Australian colleagues understand that China will not compromise on issues of principle,” said Wang Wentao.
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