China's top diplomat in Australia urges 'stable relationship'

Since arriving in Canberra, China's ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian has said he wants to get the relationship "back on the right track". PHOTO: EMBASSY OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA IN THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

CANBERRA (BLOOMBERG) - China's ambassador to Australia has called on the nations to reach "a healthy and stable relationship" after growing tensions in recent years, continuing a conciliatory tone five months into his posting in Canberra.

"Both China and Australia are great countries," Mr Xiao Qian said in an editorial celebrating the nations' 50th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties, which was published in the Australian Financial Review on Wednesday (May 11).

"Our peoples have sincere feelings for each other and are eager to exchange ideas, engage in mutual learning, deepen friendship and seek common development."

Australia's relationship with China, its largest trading partner, have deteriorated in recent years, with Beijing placing tariffs on barley exports, and traders ordered to stop buying commodities including coal, copper and wine.

Tensions sparked again last month when China signed a controversial security pact with Pacific Islands nation the Solomon Islands, a move that could allow Chinese military ships a safe harbour just 2,000km from the Australian coastline.

Since arriving in Canberra, the ambassador has said he wants to get the relationship "back on the right track" and agreed to meet Foreign Minister Marise Payne for talks in the most senior publicised contact between the nations in about two years, after Beijing suspended ministerial-level ties.

"History has proved that China and Australia are fully capable of achieving harmony in diversity, seeking common ground while resolving differences, and becoming an exemplary model of peaceful coexistence and win-win co-operation between countries with different cultural traditions, political systems and development stages," Mr Xiao said in the editorial.

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