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China congratulates new Australian PM, thaws after months of estrangement

“The Chinese side is ready to work with the Australian side to look back and look to the future… to promote the healthy and steady growth of their comprehensive strategic partnership,” Li said. Monday evening by the official news agency Chine nouvelle.

Relations between Beijing and Canberra are at their lowest since 2020, in the wake of Covid-19 and Australia’s request for an independent investigation into the origins of the pandemic.

Australia then excluded the Chinese giant Huawei from the market for the construction of its 5G telecommunications network. China, Australia’s biggest trading partner, had retaliated with retaliatory measures targeting more than a dozen Australian products, including coal, wine and barley.

The Chinese congratulations come as Mr Albanese, who took office on Monday, is in Tokyo to participate in the summit of the Quad (United States, India, Japan, Australia), an informal group whose main raison d’être is to counter Chinese influence in Asia-Pacific.

In his first official statement on his country’s foreign policy on Monday, Anthony Albanese maintained that Sino-Australian relations “will remain difficult”.

“It’s China that has changed, not Australia, and Australia will always have to stay true to its values,” said the 59-year-old politician.

Australia has expressed concerns about Beijing’s growing influence in the Pacific region, particularly in light of a recent security pact between China and the Solomon Islands.

According to a leaked draft agreement, it includes a section that would authorize the deployment of the Chinese navy in these islands located less than 2,000 kilometers from Australia.

The head of Chinese diplomacy, Wang Yi, is also expected this week in the Solomon Islands.

“It’s our biggest trading partner, but China is looking to shape the world around it in ways we’ve never seen before… like in the South China Sea,” he said. Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles.

“The strategic competition is intensifying in our region, in the Pacific,” he added, stressing that the new government would “make sure that Australia’s national interest is absolutely clear”.

The termination last year by the Australian federal government of an agreement signed by the State of Victoria to join the “New Silk Roads”, a vast international investment project wanted by Chinese President Xi Jinping, had also soured relationships.

Australia also criticized China for its repressive policy towards pro-democracy opposition in Hong Kong and the arrest of two Australian citizens suspected of spying or undermining national security. Beijing for its part accused the Australian intelligence services of having subjected four Chinese journalists to searches and interrogations.

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