Australia seeks stable ties with ‘great power’ China, minister says

Australia seeks stable ties with 'great power' China, minister says

SYDNEY: Australia is aiming for a stable relationship with China despite differences specifically on trade, Australia’s foreign minister said, as she called on China to utilize its influence as a great power to help end the war in Ukraine .

Australia’s ties with its largest trading partner are at a minimal after disputes over a number of issues such as the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, trade and Australian accusations of Chinese interference.

“I believe it is a long road which many steps will have to be taken by both parties to an even more stable relationship, ” Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong told reporters after meeting her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on Thursday (Sep 22) on the sidelines of the Un General Assembly in New York.

“In terms of problems of difference, obviously first amongst them is the issue of trade blockages, and that is the issue I focused on at the outset, ” she said.

Wong said that her ending up in the Chinese foreign minister was constructive and she urged China, as one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (P5), to use its influence to greatly help end the Ukraine crisis.

“China is a great power… We encourage China as a P5 member with a special responsibility to uphold the UN Charter to make use of its influence to get rid of the war, ” she said.

She said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was illegal and President Vladimir Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons was “unthinkable and irresponsible”.

Wong said in her talks with Wang Yi she had raised the issue of Australian journalist Cheng Lei and blogger Yang Hengjun , who have been detained in China and face espionage charges.

Thursday’s meeting with Wang Yi, the second in three months, comes whilst the recently elected Labor government looks to rebuild ties after having a sharp deterioration through the term of the last conservative government.

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said this week “there was a belligerence in the way in which the former government spoke”, and his government was looking to change the tone.