Australia urges China to behave ‘wisely’

Australia is doubling down on its call for China to scrap $20 billion worth of trade sanctions, urging it to act “wisely” in its diplomacy.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong admitted only China could make the choice to remove the restrictions slapped on Australian wine, beef, barley and more in 2020, but again insisted it would benefit both nations.

Senator Wong was speaking from Micronesia where she’s on a bipartisan visit, with Australia and China to celebrate 50 years of diplomacy next week.

She said Australia was putting its best foot forward in its relations with China, particularly after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese met Chinese President Xi Jinping last month to end the nations’ six-year diplomatic freeze.

“We will look to stabilise the relationship, we will be clear we think it’s in both country’s interests for those trade impediments to be removed,” Senator Wong said.

“We will seek to have an engagement which enables Australia to navigate its differences wisely and we would encourage China to engage with us in a way that navigates the differences between our interests wisely.”

Senator Wong was speaking with Micronesia’s president David Panuelo and she lauded his leadership after he wrote to Solomon Islands leader Manasseh Sogavare to warn him of the impact of signing a security pact with China.

“When I’m in Southeast Asia or in the Pacific, what we are actually engaged in is choosing what sort of region we want,” she said.

“That’s precisely what (Mr Panuelo) and many others in the region are talking about, a region that is stable, a region in which rules are respected, and which sovereignty is preserved.”

Senator Wong, Pacific Minister Pat Conroy and their coalition counterparts Simon Birmingham and Michael McCormack are visiting Vanuatu, Palau and Micronesia as part of the first bipartisan visit to the region since 2019.

The group announced a new security arrangement with Vanuatu covering areas of humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, law enforcement, cyber security, defense, border security, and maritime safety.

But while Senator Wong is promoting Australia as a security partner of choice, she is also keen for the region to take the lead.

“We believe that the region is best served when the region takes responsibility for its security and that’s the approach we will continue to take,” she said.

“We want a region that is peaceful, prosperous, stable and in which sovereignty is respected and that’s the approach we want to take to the Pacific and the Indo-Pacific more broadly.”

The visit is aimed at strengthening Australia’s standing in the region as China secures its own ties with Pacific nations.


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