Chinese Premier Li Urges 'shelving Differences' With Australia

Chinese Premier Li urges 'shelving differences' with Australia

Sydney, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 15th Jun, 2024) Chinese Premier Li Qiang called Saturday for "shelving differences" with Australia as he embarked on a four-day trip dangling the promise of expanded trade despite their geopolitical rivalry.

Li -- the second most powerful man in China after President Xi Jinping -- touched down in Adelaide at the start of a diplomatic mission across the resource-rich continent.

China has gradually removed swingeing trade sanctions on Australian wine, timber, barley and beef exports imposed in 2020 during a diplomatic rift with the former conservative government. Tariffs on rock lobsters remain.

The measures cost Australian exporters an estimated Aus$20 billion ($13 billion) a year.

Economic relations between the two countries have eased since Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's government took power in 2022 and adopted a softer diplomatic approach to Beijing.

"Mutual respect, seeking common ground while shelving differences and mutually beneficial cooperation" were key to growing China-Australia relations, Li said in a written arrival statement.

"A more mature, stable and fruitful comprehensive strategic partnership will be a treasure shared by the people of both countries.

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The premier waved at the aircraft door and was greeted on the airport tarmac in Adelaide by Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, other government officials, photographers and tv journalists.

Flying in from a similarly trade-centred visit to New Zealand, Li is the highest ranking Chinese official to visit either country since 2017.

The premier will tour a South Australian wine grower and check in on two Chinese-loaned giant pandas in Adelaide Zoo, hold talks with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese before tucking into a state lunch in Canberra, and then travel to a lithium mine in Western Australia.

The Chinese premier's visit "reflects the improving tone," said Ryan Neelam, director of the foreign policy programme at Sydney-based think tank the Lowy Institute.

"The relationship is now more focused on the economic opportunities between them than it has in the past, which has been overshadowed by the political and security differences," he said.

"But at the same time, those differences haven't gone away."