China has hit out at the “radical, narrow, erroneous and stupid” policies of the last two Australian governments, as Foreign Minister Penny Wong prepares to travel to Beijing.
Senator Wong will become the first Australian government minister since 2019 to travel to China.
She will meet with her counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing on Tuesday and Wednesday, in a visit that coincides with the 50 year anniversary of diplomatic relations and Gough Whitlam’s visit.
Her trip follows the meeting between Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Bali last month, after years of strained tension between the two countries.
The Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece The Global Times said the past two Australian administrations had “deliberately created … trouble out of nothing”, and that the nation was now enjoying a more collaborative working relationship with the Albanese government.
“The radical, narrow, erroneous, and stupid China policies of the last two Australian administrations have seriously damaged the friendly and cooperative atmosphere accumulated in China-Australia relations for decades,” the newspaper wrote.
“The twists and turns and difficulties that China-Australia relations have experienced in the past years are completely unnecessary and purely manufactured.
“This year can be marked as a year when China-Australia relations broke through. We certainly expect that the relationship between the two countries can get out of the predicament and turn around.”
China said there remain difficulties to the bilateral relations, and said Canberra needed to continue to show “verbal goodwill and substantial actions”.
Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham said the visit was a “test” of whether Senator Wong could salvage the relationship with China.
Senator Birmingham said Australians would be looking to see whether Senator Wong could ensure meaningful action in regards to trade sanctions and the detention of Australians like Cheng Lei.
He noted China appeared to be moving away from “wolf warrior diplomacy”.
“There seems to be a change at present from China in terms of their international engagement,” he said.
Hervé Lamahieu from the Lowy Institute on Tuesday told ABC News that the mere act of setting foot on Chinese soil was a success.
“In terms of concrete deliverables that the Foreign Minister can expect to achieve in Beijing, we have to manage our expectations there,” he said.
“These are early steps in the stabilisation of the relationship, not quite the normalisation nor a full reset but we will have to wait and see.
“The ball is in China’s court. Australia has illustrated it is willing to engage productively without necessarily giving up grounds, and we will see what happens.”