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China's ambassador hails 'new tone and future directions' in … – SBS News


KEY POINTS
  • China’s ambassador to Australia says 2023 heralds a strengthening in bilateral ties.
  • Xiao Qian said the high-level meetings in recent months has restored “consensus” in the bilateral relationship.
  • He flagged climate change and electric vehicles as new areas of cooperation.
China’s ambassador to Australia, Xiao Qian, has used his New Year address to convey his optimism about the direction of relations between China and Australia.
He said the one-year anniversary of his time in the role as the new ambassador has been “positive, constructive and productive”.
Diplomatic channels between senior officials have reopened for the first time in two years following a series of high-level meetings in recent months, including
Mr Xiao said the joint outcome statement that was produced from the historic meeting – the first visit by an Australian federal minister to China since 2019 – crucially outlines the positive new “tone and future directions” of the bilateral relationship.
“It is a paper to lay out the road map for both sides to implement the consensus, by which President Xi and Anthony Albanese [spoke about] during their bilateral meeting [in Bali in November],” Mr Xiao said at the Chinese Embassy in Canberra on Tuesday.
“And specifically we will restart bilateral dialogues, mechanisms, consultations covering a wide range of areas: bilateral relationship, trade, economics, investment, climate change, regional issues, global issues.”
The ambassador said other “new frontiers” in bilateral cooperation included green energy and electric cars.

“There is such a strong complementarity between the two countries,” he said.

Chinese ambassador to Australia holds a wine glass as he makes a toast.

China’s ambassador to Australia, Xiao Qian, says with Lunar New Year 12 days away, the Year of the Rabbit brings with it “good luck” and he hopes that translates to strengthened bilateral ties between China and Australia. Source: AAP / Dean Lewins

Making a toast, he said this year’s Lunar New Year, the year of the rabbit, brings with it good luck and the hope that Australia and China can “rise above differences”.

“The year of the rabbit is considered to be the year of jumping over obstacles and coming into good luck,” he said.

Australian businesses are eager to see one of the first areas of cooperation be the lifting by China of trade restrictions imposed from 2019 on $20 billion worth of Australian goods, including wine, barley, lobsters, beef, coal, cotton, and timber.

A woman wearing a suit and face mask shakes hands with a man wearing a suit and face mask

Foreign Minister Penny Wong met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing in December. Source: AP / Zhang Ling

Following a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali in November, Mr Albanese said significant steps had been made to facilitate the lifting of the trade sanctions.

Coinciding with Ms Wong’s visit to Beijing, China’s General Administration of Customs encouraged people to buy goods that had been subject to the sanctions, such as Australian lobsters.
The two countries marked the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations on 21 December 2022.

Mr Xiao said China was keen to continue work to consolidate the “new consensus” – including an approach to discuss areas of tension, such as trade, “in a constructive manner”.

“We can address the differences in a way that will not allow the differences to hijack the overall relationship between the two countries, not allow them to hijack the co-operation between our two countries.”
Taking questions from journalists after his address, Mr Xiao signalled a solution may be forthcoming on .
“I hope a solution will come as soon as possible but we need to respect the legal procedure,” he said.
Addressing concerns about the as the last major restrictions were lifted earlier this week, Mr Xiao said the timing for the changes is right.

“While the virus is less deadly, and China’s capacity in treatment, testing and vaccination has been steadily enhanced. It is in this context, that China has taken initiative to refine its COVID response measures, with the aim of protecting the lives and health of the people – and reducing the impact of economic and social development.”



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