Albanese delivers frank first message to China: 'Not changed'

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·Associate News Editor
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Anthony Albanese has delivered his first message to China as prime minister – and it does not look good for Sino-Australian relations.

China took centre stage in the election campaigns of both parties, with the nation's supposedly increased threat to national security repeatedly peddled.

And while Beijing had been hopeful Mr Albanese's victory could lead to a change in direction for the badly-depleted relationship between the two countries, the Labor leader offered a frank assessment of its future.

Anthony Albanese was unrelenting with his message to China. Source: ABC
Anthony Albanese was unrelenting with his message to China. Source: ABC

"What I have said, and we maintain, is that the relationship with China will remain a difficult one," he told reporters moments after being sworn in as Australia's 31st prime minister.

"I said that before the election. That has not changed. It is China that has changed, not Australia and Australia should always stand up for our values and we will in a Government that I lead."

Swipe at exiting Morrison

He did however say he would not attempt to play politics with national security issues – a pointed swipe at the Coalition, echoing repeated remarks from incoming Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong who has been highly critical of her predecessor Peter Dutton.

Mr Albanese highlighted the Liberal Party's text message to voters on election day which warned of an illegal boat interception, which prompted accusations of politicising national security.

China will watch Biden Albanese meeting closely

Mr Albanese's remarks come as he is due to fly to Japan and meet with US President Joe Biden – a meeting where the two leaders, alongside Japan and India, are expected to express their commitment to counteracting China's rapidly-growing influence in the Indo-Pacific.

Australia awaits the reaction of the Chinese embassy and the nation's foreign ministry to Mr Albanese's win, with his victory undoubtedly set to be put to a spokesperson at the department's daily press briefing.

On Sunday, state-run nationalistic tabloid Global Times said it was hopeful Mr Albanese's government would approach the China relationship with "rationality".

"We hope that the new Australian government deal with China in a "mature manner" to push the China-Australia relationship back on the right track," it said.

The publication savaged outgoing prime minister Scott Morrison, accusing him of overseeing "the most inexplicable phenomenon of international relations in recent years", referring to the fallout with Beijing.

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