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China puts blame on Scott Morrison as Australia seeks to improve relations


China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China had four demands for Australia to improve the relations between the two countries. Picture: Johannes P. CHRISTO / AFP
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China had four demands for Australia to improve the relations between the two countries. Picture: Johannes P. CHRISTO / AFP

China has demanded Australia “seize the current opportunity” and take concrete actions to improve relations between Beijing and Canberra.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong met with her Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of a G20 meeting in Bali last week, where she said she had a “full and frank” discussion with Wang Yi.

It was the first time the Foreign Ministers had met face-to-face since 2019, and ends a more than two-year long diplomatic freeze between ministers.

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Tensions soured in 2020 after former prime minister Scott Morrison called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In response, China slapped bans and tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Australian exports, namely wine and barley.

Senator Wong said the meeting had been an “important first step” to “stabilise” the relationship.

Mr Yi blamed the former Morrison government for the soured relations, and said moving forward Australia needed to see China as a “partner, rather than a rival”, and pointed at a “series of irresponsible words and deeds” on Canberra’s behalf.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong met with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, China Foreign Minister last week, ending a two year ministerial freeze. Picture: Johannes P. Christo
Foreign Minister Penny Wong met with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, China Foreign Minister last week, ending a two year ministerial freeze. Picture: Johannes P. Christo

In a readout from the meeting, Mr Yi said China had four demands for Australia to improve the relations between the two countries.

“First, stick to regarding China as a partner rather than a rival. Second, stick to the way we get along with each other, which features seeking common ground while reserving differences,” the readout from the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

“Third, stick to not targeting any third party or being controlled by any third party. Fourth, stick to building positive and pragmatic social foundations and public support.”

Mr Yi said his government appreciated the new Albanese government had “reaffirmed its commitment” to the strategic partnership between the two countries and its adherence to the one-China policy.

“China hopes that Australia will seize the current opportunity, take concrete actions, reshape a correct perception of Australia, and reduce negative assets and accumulate positive energy for improving China-Australia relations,” the readout said.

China says to improve relations between Beijing and Canberra, Australia needed to do ‘four things’. Picture: Johannes P. Christo
China says to improve relations between Beijing and Canberra, Australia needed to do ‘four things’. Picture: Johannes P. Christo

Mr Yi said the two sides had spoken about their relations with Pacific Island countries, after Beijing signed a historic security deal with the Solomon Islands.

It comes amid reports the Solomon Islands has blocked Australian aid workers from entering the country, while granting entry to Chinese advisers.

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