On Sunday, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he supported a Group of Seven (G7) joint statement issued by Japan emphasizing the need to reduce reliance on trade with China.
The G7 affluent nations, which increasingly perceive China as a danger to economic stability, published a declaration from Hiroshima on Saturday that alluded to de-risking rather than decoupling economic involvement with the world’s second biggest economy.
Addressing media in Hiroshima, Albanese, who attended a Quad leaders’ meeting on the sidelines of the summit on Saturday, said according to an official transcript: “I support the G7 communiques about the international relations that we have there”.
Albanese said Australia had “for some time” expressed concern about China’s activity, pointing to the “chafing” of an Australian aircraft.
In May 2022, a Chinese fighter aircraft dangerously intercepted an Australian military plane in the South China Sea region, according to Australia’s defense department.
“We’ve expressed concern in the past, we’ll continue to do so,” Albanese said.
“What we need to do is to make sure we work in a way that enhances the peace, security and stability in the region.”
China, firmly opposing the G7 statement, has complained to summit organizer Japan, the Chinese foreign ministry has said.
The leaders of the United States, Japan, India and Australia – a group known as Quad – said in Hiroshima they sought a region “where no country dominates and no country is dominated”, language that also appeared targeted at China.
Albanese’s comments come amid a recent thaw in Australia-China relations, with China set to resume imports of Australian timber, and talks under way about a visit by the prime minister to Beijing.
Australia’s main political opposition, the Liberal-National coalition, on Sunday urged Albanese to wait for confirmation on the lifting of trade sanctions before visiting China.
“That clarity should be there before the Prime Minister entertains a formal state visit to Beijing,” Shadow Foreign Minister Simon Birmingham told ABC television.