Wang Yi, the foreign minister of China, has advised Penny Wong, her Australian counterpart, to see China as a partner rather than an enemy and to gather “positive energy” to strengthen bilateral relations.
Wang expressed hope that Australia might “seize the opportunity, take tangible actions, and come to a correct understanding of China” on the margins of the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bali on Friday, according to a summary released late on Saturday by the Chinese foreign ministry.
“The root cause of the difficulties in Chinese and Australian relations in recent years lies in the insistence of previous Australian governments to treat China as an ‘opponent’ and even a ‘threat’,” Wang said, adding that Australia’s words and actions had been “irresponsible”.
China has been restricting imports of Australian coal and other products since 2020. Among Beijing’s grievances were Canberra’s call for a full probe into the origins of COVID-19, an investigation into Chinese interference in Australian politics, and a ban on China’s Huawei from participating in Australia’s 5G rollout.
Australian Foreign Minister Wong said on Friday that the meeting with her Chinese counterpart was a first step towards stabilising the relationship but that it would take time for Beijing to remove trade blockages on Australia.
Australia has also expressed concern about China’s growing presence in the Pacific region, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese warning on Friday that Beijing had become “more aggressive”.
Wang told Wong at the Friday meeting that China was conducting “equal exchange and cooperation” with sovereign island nations based on their requests and needs, the Chinese foreign ministry said.