China's President Xi Jinping has told Prime Minister Anthony Albanese relations between the two countries are on the "right path" in a landmark meeting in Beijing.
Albanese met with Xi in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Monday evening for more than an hour – marking the first meeting between the two countries' leaders in China since 2017.
The promising tone in the wake of the meet is a far cry to the dire situation Sino-Australian relations faced under former prime minister Scott Morrison, whose leadership saw a dramatic downturn in productive dialogue.
Xi told Albanese the two countries had "worked" out some problems and that he wanted to continue a comprehensive strategic partnership.
Albanese had promised to be direct with Xi, and press him where needed on matters involving Australia's national interests and values.
Constantly reiterating his intentions to stand up for the latter while pursuing the former, is "wise foreign policy", Wen-Ti Sung, Sessional Lecturer at ANU's College of Asia & the Pacific, told Yahoo News Australia.
Albanese raised differences over human rights and tensions in the Indo-Pacific, as well as the detention of writer Yang Hengjun amid espionage allegations, however it did not disrupt what was a major step in repairing relations.
When Labor won the federal election in 2022, newly-appointed Foreign Minister Penny Wong promised the government would choose its language surrounding China far more carefully than the former government – a commitment well received by Beijing.
It is 50 years since Gough Whitlam became the first Australian Prime Minister to visit China.
Since he visited the Temple of Heaven in Beijing much has changed.
But what is constant is that engagement between our two countries remains important. pic.twitter.com/NInb093o3J
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) November 6, 2023
"After taking office, you've been working to stabilise and improve relations with China," Xi said on Monday evening. "It also meets the common expectation of countries in our region.
Albanese avoids 'amplifying' differences
"Now the China-Australia relationship has embarked on the right path of improvement and development."
Albanese said the meeting was "unquestionably very positive".
"What we have done is continue to put forward Australia's position in a principled way, in a clear way, but in a way that hasn't sought to amplify differences to score a political point," he said.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.