Australian PM visit to China to be locked in at ‘appropriate time’
SYDNEY — Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Sunday that he would set the date for a China visit at an “appropriate time” as he stressed the importance of bilateral trade and expressed concerns about an Australian journalist detained in Beijing.
Talks are under way about a visit by Albanese to China as Australia’s centre-left Labor government pushes to end unofficial Chinese bans and tariffs placed on some Australian products in 2020 during a lowpoint in diplomatic relations.
Asked about when a visit would happen, Albanese said “we’ll finalize the date at an appropriate time”, adding that his next overseas trip would be in July to the NATO summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.
Albanese refused to be drawn on whether Australians detained in China would be released prior to a visit, but reiterated a call for the release of Australian journalist Cheng Lei, detained in Beijing since being arrested in September 2020.
“Cheng Lei … should be released and should be allowed to come home to Australia,” he said on Sky News television, according to an official transcript.
Australia continued to advocate for the removal of any impediments to trade between the “two great nations”, Albanese added.
“The truth is that it is in Australia’s interest to export to China, but it’s also in China’s interest to receive those exports,” he said.
China in May said it was set to resume imports of Australian timber days after Trade Minister Don Farrell returned from a trip to Beijing. A visit by Foreign Minister Penny Wong in December was followed weeks later by the resumption of coal shipments.