Australian PM says Beijing should lift trade sanctions

China must lift its sanctions against Australia to improve relations, the Australian prime minister said on Tuesday, hailing as “a good thing” the first talks between ministers from the two countries in nearly three years.

China is Australia’s biggest trading partner and biggest customer for its iron ore – its biggest export earner – but diplomatic relations have been strained in recent years.

In imposing its sanctions, Beijing listed 14 grievances with Australia, ranging from its call for an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, to the banning of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from building a 5G network and the screening of investments. foreigners for national security risks.

“It was China that imposed sanctions on Australia. They need to lift those sanctions in order to improve relations,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told reporters in Brisbane.

Australia’s former government has called China’s sanctions on its agricultural and energy products “economic coercion”. Amid a years-long diplomatic freeze, Australian ministers have been unable to arrange calls with their Chinese counterparts.

But defense chief Wei Fenghe met his Australian counterpart Richard Marles on the sidelines of a security conference in Singapore on Sunday, with Marles describing their hour-long chat as an “important first step”.

Albanese said it was “a good thing” the ministers met and stressed the importance of trade with China to Australia’s economy.

The Foreign Ministry said on Monday that Albanese responded to a congratulatory message from Premier Li Keqiang on his election victory last month, adding that he also wanted to see steps to improve relations.

“To improve China-Australia relations, there is no ‘autopilot’ mode. A reset requires concrete actions,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a press briefing. regular in Beijing.

Albanese declined to elaborate on what he said to Li. “I responded appropriately,” he told reporters. (Reuters)

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