Albo to host key China leader in Australia

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Anthony Albanese has arrived in China. Pictured at the welcome banquet hosted by Chinese Premier Li Qiang, ahead of the China International Import Expo.

Anthony Albanese will host Chinese Premier Li Qiang next week in a four-day visit, which the Prime Minister says is an opportunity to continue to build relations with Australia’s biggest trading partner.

This is the second visit from a senior Chinese official to Australia this year, after China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit in March.

Mr Albanese and Mr Li will have lunch at an Adelaide winery, with Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Trade Minister Don Farrell and wine industry leaders just months after a contentious ban was lifted.

“Premier Li Qiang’s visit to Australia is an important opportunity to engage directly on key issues for both our nations,” Mr Albanese said.

“China is Australia’s largest trading partner and our economic relationship continues to bring substantial benefits to both our countries.”

Mr Albanese became the first Australian prime minister to visit China since 2016 after he flew to Beijing in November. Picture: PMO
Mr Albanese became the first Australian prime minister to visit China since 2016 after he flew to Beijing in November. Picture: PMO

The lunch at the winery follows Beijing’s decision to lift crippling sanctions on Australian wine in March.

Last week, China also lifted sanctions on exports from five Australian meat processing facilities in NSW and Queensland.

An unofficial ban on live lobster imports is expected to be a key topic of discussion among leaders .

Mr Albanese will meet with President Xi Jinping’s second-in-command for an official leaders meeting in Canberra on Monday.

Premier Li will then travel to Perth for a business roundtable and visit to a Chinese-owned lithium plant.

Mr Albanese told reporters on Tuesday he would also raise an incident in which a Chinese fighter dropped flares near an Australian navy helicopter in May

“It was dangerous and should not have happened. It will not happen again. So we will certainly be putting that forward,” he told reporters in Canberra.

During talks Mr Albanese will also press Premier Li over the suspended death sentence China handed to Chinese-Australian writer Yang Hengjun in February.

Giant panda’s Wang Wang and Fu Ni have been on loan from Beijing since 2009. Picture: Adrian Mann / ZoosSA
Giant panda’s Wang Wang and Fu Ni have been on loan from Beijing since 2009. Picture: Adrian Mann / ZoosSA

Premier Li will arrive in Australia on June 15 where he first will visit Adelaide zoo, which homes the only two giant pandas in the southern hemisphere.

When asked if he would use the upcoming meeting to call for the animals to remain in Australia, Mr Albanese said that his government was “pro-panda.”

“We like panda bears and so do Australians so... There’s been no announcement on that, but I think the presence of those pandas at Adelaide up to now has brought a great deal of joy,” he said.