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After Years of Deterioration, China and Australia Attempt to reconcile

By: Richard Huang

On June 24, China’s ambassador to Australia, Xiao Qian, said that

the result of the government election in Australia was an

“opportunity of possible improvement of our bilateral relations.”

The victory of the center-left Labor Party in the 2022 election gives

an opportunity for the two countries to end their acrimony. The

leaders of both countries have indicated that they want to mitigate

the tension, which has increased in recent years.

“There is every reason for China and Australia to be friends and

partners, rather than adversaries,” Mr. Xiao said in a speech at the

University of Technology Sydney. “I’ve always believed in

Australians and their judgment, and I’ve always been prepared to

accept their verdict.” His speech was interrupted several times by the

protesters regarding the issues of Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang.

He later said: “The atmosphere in both countries needs to be

improved, that’s a fact.”

Official sources of the Chinese government confirmed that Xiao

came to Australia from Beijing to ease tensions and improve

bilateral relations. The change in attitude of the Chinese government

is consequential — China did not make any compromises with

Australia since the deterioration of their relationship in 2018.

Furthermore, the Chinese government suggested that reconciliation

can be worked through diplomacy. They suggested that sensitive

issues such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, and human rights need to be

discussed through formal, discrete mechanisms, rather than public


“But there's a long way to go,” said Anthony Albanese, the new

Prime Minister of the Australian government. “It will be a

problematic relationship. I said that before the election, regardless of

the outcome. China has sanctions against Australia that should be

removed, they're damaging the Australian economy and jobs, but

they're also causing damage to the Chinese economy. So common

sense tells us that though, you need to have dialogue between

countries… I look forward to having further dialogue between

ministers of our respective governments.”

“Ultimately, to stabilize bilateral relations, China would have to be

prepared to tolerate a large degree of continuity in Australia’s suite

of China-related policies,” said Richard Maude, a former Australian

foreign policy official who is now a senior fellow at the Asia Society

Policy Institute.


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