In the statement made by the Australian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it was stated that Wong and his delegation, who will go to the capital Beijing tomorrow, will attend the Australia-China Diplomatic and Strategic Dialogue meeting, which was held in 2018, with his Chinese counterpart Wang and his delegation the next day.
The visit is considered as a step towards thawing the relations between Australia and China, which have deteriorated recently due to conflicts arising from trade, security and defense alliances.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning confirmed the visit at a press conference in Beijing, and stated that December 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Mao said:
“Continuing the understanding that Foreign Minister Wong’s visit has agreed upon at the meeting of the leaders of the two countries at the G20 Summit in Indonesia, we seek the common ground by shelving differences on the basis of the principles of mutual respect and benefit, maintain dialogue and cooperation, and lead bilateral relations in an appropriate and sustainable direction. We hope it will contribute to its success.”
Relations between Australia and China began to deteriorate after the Canberra administration requested an independent investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, when the first cases were reported in China. The Beijing administration had brought the political tension to the trade dimension with the restrictions it placed on imported products from Australia.
With the law it has enacted to prevent foreign influence in domestic politics, Australia has taken measures against some Chinese investments and banned the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei from establishing a 5G network infrastructure. In response, the Beijing administration suspended all routine contacts with Australia and stopped imports of beef, wine, lobster, barley and timber from Australia.
In October 2021, Australia signed the AUKUS agreement, which envisages cooperation with the USA and the UK in the field of nuclear submarine technology, and also joined the security alliance called the Quadruple Security Dialogue (QUAD), which includes the USA, Japan and India. These developments were interpreted by China as an alliance against itself in the Pacific.
The leaders of the two countries met for the first time in 6 years.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had a meeting on the margins of the G20 Summit held on the Indonesian island of Bali on November 15-16. The meeting was the first meeting of the leaders of the two countries after 6 years.
During the meeting, Xi stated that Australia had led China’s relations with developed countries for a long time, but that there have been difficulties in relations in recent years, and emphasized the importance of maintaining, developing and advancing relations between China and Australia, as the two important countries of the Asia-Pacific region.
Albanese also stated that the two countries have differences, but that they will cooperate when necessary, and that Australia will not give up on its interests and values, and that the two countries may disagree from time to time.