Shanghai, China – Australia’s Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, has tactfully addressed China’s robust trade strategies during Beijing’s extensive trade dispute with Canberra. Speaking at a trade exposition in Shanghai, he emphasized that “Australia and China have flourished, thanks to the stability and predictability afforded by rule-based trade.”
While subtly critiquing Beijing’s trade practices, the Australian Prime Minister refrained from dismissing China’s long-standing aspiration to become a vital participant in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
On the inaugural day of his momentous visit to China, Albanese delivered a speech at the nation’s largest international trade event, following China’s Premier Li Qiang’s opening remarks.
In the presence of Premier Li, Albanese underscored the essential role of government in fostering conducive conditions for business innovation and growth. He stated, “We achieve this by eradicating superfluous trade impediments, ensuring fair competition, and promoting comprehensive economic advancement.”
The Prime Minister of Australia acknowledged that “each country plays a vital role in advancing sustainable and inclusive trade” and that such objectives could be realized “through domestic policies and by supporting open and inclusive regional and global trade structures.”
Just minutes earlier, the Chinese Premier had voiced a commitment to opposing unilateralism and protectionism, asserting that China would staunchly defend the authority and effectiveness of the multilateral trade system. This declaration came despite China’s imposition of punitive unilateral trade measures on Australian exports during a detrimental bilateral trade dispute. While some of these sanctions have been lifted, a few remain in force.
Premier Li conveyed China’s intention to uphold global supply chain stability, promote international consensus, establish rules conducive to cooperation, and mitigate the interference of non-economic factors.
On Sunday, he declared that “China will invariably align with the right side of history and adapt to evolving times.”
Prime Minister Albanese inaugurated the China International Import Expo in Shanghai and subsequently held discussions with Australian and Chinese business leaders. Later, he attended a reception hosted by Tourism Australia.
Albanese observed that in the fifty years since Gough Whitlam’s initial visit to China, both nations’ economies have undergone profound transformation and diversification, beyond the imagination of their predecessors.
The Prime Minister affirmed that peace and prosperity are intertwined and that both countries have benefited from a stable, peaceful, open, and connected region. Additionally, he pointed out that trade in goods and services has nearly doubled since the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement came into effect, providing Chinese consumers with high-quality Australian products and assisting Chinese businesses with essential inputs.
Albanese is set to meet China’s President, Xi Jinping, in Beijing, where the focus may shift to China’s desire for Australian support in joining the CPTPP.
Furthermore, Premier Li emphasized China’s pursuit of high-level open platforms for expanded global-oriented free trade agreements and active efforts to join the CPTPP. Albanese remained discreet about Australia’s stance on this matter during the press conference, indicating that the regional trade pact adheres to rigorous standards.
The Prime Minister is also expected to address human rights and consular issues, including the ongoing detention of writer Yang Hengjun. He also touched on the possible return of two pandas from Adelaide to China, expressing his desire to see pandas continue to be present in Australia for the enjoyment of Australian families.