Australia’s prime minister Anthony Albanese confirmed on Thursday (Sep 7) on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Indonesia, that he will visit China later this year at the invitation of China’s leader Xi Jinping.
The announcement came after talks with Li Qiang China’s premier and after a years-long break in relations between the two countries over various issues including human rights, Covid-19 and trade.
“I … confirmed the invitation from President Xi,” Albanese, who took office in 2022, told reporters adding that he “will visit China later this year at a mutually agreeable time”.
The trip would be the first to China, Australia’s biggest trading partner, by an Australian leader since 2016.
Relations between the two countries apparently saw an improvement after Xi and Albanese’s high-level meeting in the Indonesian resort island of Bali last November on the sidelines of the Group of Twenty (G20) summit, followed by the respective foreign ministers in Beijing.
“China-Australia relations have maintained a positive momentum of improvement thanks to the concerted efforts of both sides over the past year,” Li said.
He also said stable relations between China and Australia “align with the fundamental interests and common wishes of the peoples of both countries.” Li added that Beijing is willing to work with Canberra to “jointly safeguard peace and stability of the region,” according to Chinese state media.
The good news on bilateral relations came as data showed that China’s trade surplus contracted to $68.36 billion in August. Exports were 8.8% lower last month on an annualized basis, while imports decreased 7.3%. The trade surplus stood at 488 billion yuan, with exports down 3.2% year on year, according to a report released by the country’s General Administration of Customs. Economists at Capital Economics said exports are set to decline over the coming months before bottoming out toward the end of the year.