China willing to recalibrate ties with Australia: Wang Yi

BEIJING • China-Australia relations are facing both challenges and opportunities, and China is willing to recalibrate ties in the spirit of mutual respect, said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

"The Chinese side is willing to take the pulse (on ties), recalibrate, and set sail again," Mr Wang told Chinese media in the Guangxi region on Thursday, according to a Foreign Ministry statement yesterday.

But Australia must correct its understanding of China and not hype up differences, and refrain from joining in with others in trying to contain China, he added.

Earlier on Thursday, China's Commerce Ministry said Beijing hopes that Australia can take pragmatic actions to create favourable conditions for the healthy and stable development of bilateral trade relations.

China expects Australia to adopt the principle of mutual respect and mutual benefit, ministry spokesman Shu Jueting told a news conference.

The comment came after Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong earlier said the new government in Canberra was "willing to engage" with China, but added that it wanted the trade blockages that China has taken against Australia to be lifted.

China has imposed trade sanctions on Australian products ranging from coal to seafood to wine in response to policies and decisions, including Australia's call for an investigation into the origins of Covid-19 and its 5G network ban on tech giant Huawei.

But a recent meeting between Ms Wong and Mr Wang signalled a first step towards stabilising the relationship, according to Ms Wong.

Last year, bilateral trade value totalled US$231.2 billion (S$324 billion), up 35.1 per cent year on year, Chinese official data showed. China's imports from Australia grew 40.6 per cent to US$164.8 billion.

Due to supply concerns over Western-led sanctions on Russia, Chinese officials are proposing to end a near two-year ban on importing Australian coal, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday.

Chinese news site sxcoal.com also said that talk of China ending its unofficial ban on imports of Australian coal has intensified in recent days.

REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2022, with the headline China willing to recalibrate ties with Australia: Wang Yi. Subscribe