Australia and China are set to resume annual leaders’ meetings following a successful meeting between the Prime Minister and China’s second-in-command, further thawing frozen relations between the two countries.
China’s Premier Li Qiang announced the resumption of regular talks after meeting Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Tuesday.
Mr Albanese previously flagged he would be asking Premier Li to restart the yearly dialogues, which broke down over disputes between China and the former government over the origins of Covid-19.
The last official annual leaders’ meeting was held in November 2019 when Scott Morrison met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Bangkok.
Anthony Albanese met Chinese Premier Li Qiang during his visit to China, where the locals called him the handsome boy who came from Australia
Mr Albanese also turned heads in his Matildas World Cup jersey during a walk in Shanghai
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Premier Li Qiang announced the resumption of annual meetings between the two nations.
Mr Albanese was greeted with hundreds of military personnel for an elaborate ceremonial welcome before his meeting with Premier Li on Tuesday.
The Chinese leader told reporters he considered Mr Albanese as an ‘old friend’ after meeting him four times in the past year.
He said Mr Albanese’s visit had been circulating widely on Chinese social media, including a video of the PM running in a yellow jersey which drew the attention of local residents.
‘People were saying that we have a handsome boy coming from Australia,’ Premier Li told reporters.
Mr Albanese said he welcomed the restoration of leadership talks but also flagged he would continue to push for China to scrap its remaining trade bans on Australian exports.
‘Our proximity, our economic complementarities and close people-to-people ties make us important partners now and into the future,’ he said.
‘That is why the full resumption of free and unimpeded trade between our two countries is so important.’
Mr Albanese (right) received a ceremonial welcome with Chinese Premier Li Qiang (left) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing
The resumption of leadership talks followed an hour-long meeting between Mr Albanese and President Xi Jinping on Monday, which marked the first visit by an Australian Prime Minister to China in seven years.
Mr Albanese hailed the conversation as ‘very successful’ with both leaders discussing human rights, escalation of threats against Taiwan, and trade sanctions.
The Prime Minister is due to fly out of China on Tuesday evening ushering an end to his three-day visit.