Anthony Albanese has spoken after a historic meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit in Indonesia.
The Prime Minister characterised the conversation as a “very positive and constructive discussion”, with the meeting the first between an Australian leader and Mr Xi since 2019.
The Prime Minister said that it was another “important step towards the stabilisation of the Australia-China relationship”.
“So it‘s an important relationship for Australia and Australia seeks a stable relationship with China,” he told reporters after the meeting.
“We have big differences to manage, but we‘re always going to be better off when we have dialogue.
“One of the things that struck me was that both of us spoke about how we have highly complementary economies. It is clearly in Australia’s interest to export some of the foreign products that we have, it’s in China’s interest to receive those foreign products.”
“I put forward Australia’s position when it comes to the blockages in our trading relationship, I put toward the differences that we have on human rights issues including Xinjiang.
“I put forward specifically as well the cases of Cheng Lei and [Yang Hengjun].
“ I also put forward our position on Ukraine and asked that China exercise its influence on Russia specifically about Russia‘s threats to use tactical nuclear weapons.”
Mr Xi said he was “very pleased” to meet with the Australian Prime Minister for the first time.
“China-Australia relations have long been at the forefront of China‘s relations with developed countries, and they deserve to be cherished by us,” he said in a statement translated by the ABC.
“In the past few years, China-Australia relations have encountered some difficulties, which we do not want to see because China and Australia are both important countries in the Asia-Pacific region, we should improve, maintain, and develop the relationship between the two countries.
“It is in line with the fundamental interests of the two countries, and is also conducive to promoting the development of peace in the Asia-Pacific region and the world.
“Since Mr Prime Minister took office, you have made a number of remarks on China-Australia relations on a number of occasions, and have repeatedly said that you will deal with China-Australia relations in a mature manner.”
When asked by reporters whether Mr Xi had signed a concession on the trade embargo, Mr Albanese said that did not happen.
“It was not anticipated that a meeting such as that you get immediate declarations that I believe if people thought that would happen, then that was not realistic,” he said.
Mr Albanese said that Mr Xi echoed his language about the “complementary economies” of Australia and China, but said that the discussion did not include concessions on trade.
Trade sanctions and military priorities have threatened the relationship between China and Australia in recent years, with many hoping Tuesday night’s talk is a signal tensions are beginning to thaw.
Mr Albanese downplayed any significance over the length of the 32-minute meeting. Mr Xi spent three hours speaking with US President Joe Biden earlier on Tuesday.
“It went over time (for) when it was scheduled, and it was very constructive,” he said.
The pair also spoke about the climate crisis and Taiwan, according to Mr Albanese.
“I referred to the floods that are occurring in New South Wales, that climate change is a global issue and it requires a global response,” he said.
“China has an important role to play on Taiwan. I certainly raised that issue. I put Australia’s position which is support for the status quo, which I put forward in the meeting, and that we didn’t wish to see any change to that status.”
The last formal discussion between an Australian Prime Minister and Chinese President was between Xi and Malcolm Turnbull in 2016.
Former Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a brief, informal discussion with Mr Xi in 2019.
“We have had our differences, and Australia won’t resile from our interests or our values, but our bilateral relationship is an important one,” Mr Albanese told reporters before the meeting.
“Both sides have worked to stabilise the relationship, based upon mutual respect and benefit.
“We will soon reach, of course, the milestone of 50 years of diplomatic relations, when a former Labor Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, established diplomatic relations between Australia and the People’s Republic of China in 1972,” Mr Albanese said.
“We agreed on principles to guide the relationship, based on equality, mutual respect and benefit and a commitment to coexist peacefully, and these principles remain important today.
“President Xi and I look forward to a constructive exchange and dialogue today, I thank you.”
Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the meeting was in the interest of peace and prosperity, and stability and security in the region.
“I was with the Prime Minister yesterday in Indonesia; I know he’s looking forward to engaging with President Xi,” Dr Chalmers told ABC Radio on Tuesday.
“We don’t pretend that we don’t have big differences here … And we will speak out for our national interest where that is necessary.
“But we believe that engagement is important, but give ourselves the best chance of working through some of these issues … today.”
Dr Chalmers said Australians should not expect all its differences with China to be solved in one meeting.
“One meeting is not going to solve all of them in one hit … This is about engaging,” he said.
“We give ourselves a much better chance (at solving big issues) when there’s engagement and dialogue, and there will be today.”