Australia's Albanese, China's Li Hold 'Candid' Talks on Trade

Australia's Albanese, China's Li Hold 'Candid' Talks on Trade

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Australia and China will take steps to improve military communication to avoid incidents, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said after meeting Premier Li Qiang on Monday, in the first visit to the country by a Chinese premier in seven years.

The visit by Li, China's top-ranked official after President Xi Jinping, marks a stabilization in relations between the US security ally and the world's second-biggest economy, after a frosty period of Beijing blocking $20 billion in Australian exports and friction over defense encounters.

"One of the very practical measures that we spoke about was improving military to military communication so as to avoid incidents," Albanese told reporters in Canberra after the meeting, which Defense Minister Richard Marles also attended, Reuters reported.

In an incident last month, a Chinese airforce jet dropped flares near an Australian defense helicopter in international airspace over the Yellow Sea, which Australia said was a dangerous encounter.

It was the second defense incident in six months to mar growing rapprochement between the two countries after years of strained relations.

Albanese told reporters he had "raised our issues in the Pacific", a reference to Canberra's concern over Beijing's growing security ambitions in nearby Pacific Islands. He had also raised the case of China-born Australian writer Yang Hengjun, who was sentenced to a suspended death sentence by a Beijing court, he said.

Li is on a four-day visit. The two leaders will travel separately to the mining state of Western Australia on Monday evening, where they will hold roundtable talks on Tuesday with business leaders.

"This dialogue has allowed us to build a deeper awareness of our respective interests," Albanese said earlier, noting Australia and China had complementary economies and shared interests in addressing climate change.

"We also have our differences… that's why candid dialogue is so important. For Australia, we consistently advocate the importance of a region and world that is peaceful, stable and prosperous, where countries respect sovereignty and abide by international laws," he said.

After the meeting, Li told reporters the leaders held a "candid, in-depth and fruitful meeting and reached a lot of consensus".

The two countries would expand cooperation in energy and mining, and China would include Australia in its visa waiver program, he added.

"We both stressed the importance of maintaining communication and coordination to jointly safeguard peace and prosperity in the region and beyond," he said.

Trade between Australia and China reached A$327 billion ($216 billion) last year as Beijing's trade blocks eased.

Australia is the biggest supplier of iron ore to China and China has been an investor in Australian mining projects.

Li's visit raises the issue of whether Australia will continue to accept high levels of Chinese investment in its critical minerals sector, as Western security allies push to reduce reliance on Beijing for the rare earths vital to electric vehicles. Australia last month blocked several Chinese investors from increasing stakes in a rare earths miner on national interest grounds.

"We have considerable interests between our mining sector and China," Albanese said on Monday after the meeting.

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