Australia’s foreign minister said Australia aims to have a stable relationship with China despite differences, particularly in trade, as she has called on China to use its influence as a great power to help end the war in Ukraine.
Australia’s relations with its largest trading partner have slumped after disagreements over a number of issues including the origin of the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, trade, and Australian accusations of Chinese interference.
“I think it’s a long way that both sides have to take many steps to achieve a more stable relationship,” Foreign Minister Penny Wong told reporters after meeting her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Thursday on the sidelines of the conference. United Nations General Assembly in New York.
“On issues of disagreement, obviously the first one is the issue of trade barriers, and that’s the issue I focused on initially,” she said.
Ms. Wong said her meeting with the Chinese foreign minister was constructive and urged China, as one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (P5), to use its influence to help end the Ukraine crisis.
“China is a great power… We encourage China as a member of the G5 with a special responsibility to uphold the UN Charter to use its influence to end the war,” she said.
It said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was illegal and that President Vladimir Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons was “unthinkable and irresponsible”.
In her conversations with Wang Yi, Ms. Wong said she had raised the case of Australian journalist Cheng Li and blogger Yang Heng Jun, who were arrested in China and face espionage charges.
Thursday’s meeting with Wang Yi, the second in three months, comes as the newly elected Labor government looks to rebuild relations after a sharp deterioration during the previous conservative government’s tenure.
Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said this week that “there was a fight in the way the previous government spoke” and that his government was looking to change the tone. – Reuters