Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has sent a congratulatory note to his newly elected Australian counterpart Anthony Albaniz, state media in Beijing say, ending a year-long diplomatic relationship between the two countries.
In May, China cut off diplomatic and trade channels with Australia in a major symbolic act of rage after clashes over issues including human rights, espionage and the source of the Covid-19.
“The Chinese side is ready to review the past, to look to the future … to work with the Australian side for the smooth and stable growth of their comprehensive strategic partnership,” Li was quoted as saying by the state news agency Xinhua. Late Monday
Tensions between the two countries have risen in the past two years after calls for an independent investigation into the source of the Canberra coronavirus epidemic and a ban on telecom giant Huawei from building Australia’s 5G network.
China – Australia’s largest trading partner – has responded by imposing tariffs or disrupting more than a dozen key industries, including wine, barley and coal.
Lee’s message came as Albanese was on his first foreign trip to Tokyo, where he was meeting with leaders from Japan, India and the United States – an informal grouping known as the Quad in an effort to tackle China.
In his first foreign policy speech on Monday, Albanese said relations with Beijing would be “a difficult one”, according to Australian media.
“It’s China that has changed, not Australia, and Australia should always stand up for our values,” said the 59-year-old center-left Labor leader.
Australia has expressed concern about Beijing’s growing influence in the Pacific, including the recent security agreement between China and the Solomon Islands.
A leaked draft of the agreement, which has not been made public, includes a section that would allow Chinese naval deployments to Solomon – 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) from Australia.
Last year, China jumped on the bandwagon when Canberra joined a new defense alliance with Britain and the United States in a heated competitive program to equip its navy with nuclear-powered submarines.
The alliance, AUKUS, aims to deal with strategic tensions in the Pacific where Sino-US hostility is growing.
A series of other issues, including Canberra’s decision last year to scrap a major infrastructure project in the state of Victoria, under Chinese President Xi Jinping’s flagship Belt and Road Initiative, have soured relations.
The two sides are embroiled in a row over spying, with Beijing accusing Australia of raiding Chinese journalists’ homes.
China, meanwhile, has accused Yang Hengjun, an Australian writer of Chinese descent, of espionage and arrested Cheng Lei, an Australian TV presenter working for state broadcaster CGTN, for “providing state privacy abroad”.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)