Australia’s foreign minister will visit China on Tuesday, which is being seen as a sign of renewed ties between the two countries.
According to the French news agency AFP, this will be the first visit by an Australian foreign minister in four years.
Australia says Penny Wong will visit Beijing to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties and meet Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Xi.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albinis announced the visit and said that Australia wants a stable relationship with China. We will cooperate as much as possible and disagree where necessary.
The Australian foreign minister last visited Beijing in 2018 after the two countries’ “excellent” relations soured.
Differences between the two countries have intensified over political and moral issues, particularly the push for Chinese influence overseas, and widespread human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet.
China’s Communist leaders were angered by Australia’s decision to ban Huawei, an approved firm, from operating the G5 network and calls for an investigation into the spread of Covid-19.
In response, China quietly imposed sanctions on a range of Australian goods and suspended high-level contacts.
Cold relations ended when the Australian prime minister met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Bali in November.
However, economic sanctions remain in place and Australia has made it clear that it wants to end them.
Canberra has embarked on sweeping military reforms to better deal with threats abroad.
Experts believe that this shift in relations is due to China’s rapid military buildup under President Xi Jinping and a more aggressive stance abroad.
China is Australia’s largest trading partner and Australia still supplies many of the metals and minerals essential to China’s remarkable economic growth.