Bishop off to Argentina for G20 talks

Lisa Martin
Julie Bishop may meet her Chinese counterpart in Argentina at the G20 foreign ministers' meeting

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop may get a chance to iron out some wrinkles in the strained China-Australia relationship in Argentina this weekend.

Ms Bishop will travel to South America for a G20 foreign ministers meeting in Buenos Aires.

On the sidelines, she's expected to have bilateral talks with her counterparts, including China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

"I have a very close and good relationship with him," Ms Bishop told 3AW radio.

"We disagree with friends, we can disagree with partners ... if we did agree with absolutely every policy of every other nation we wouldn't be an independent sovereign nation."

Relations with China have soured in the past year and Beijing is especially cranky about Australia's foreign interference laws.

No Australian minister had visited the Chinese mainland for eight months until Trade Minister Steve Ciobo broke the drought this week.

However, Mr Ciobo's trip is predominantly to attend a Port Adelaide-Gold Coast AFL clash in Shanghai as well as Asia's largest food and beverage exhibition.

A spokesman for Mr Ciobo said at this stage he doesn't have any meetings lined up with anyone from the Chinese government.

Earlier this week, a former Australian ambassador to China called for Ms Bishop to be sacked as foreign minister for making a mess of Canberra's ties to Beijing.

Former envoy-turned businessman Geoff Raby accused the Turnbull government of adopting a policy of "strategic mistrust" towards China.

Dr Raby said Ms Bishop has angered China by making "the most strident public comments on the South China Sea of any foreign minister" and delivering a "bizarre" speech that claimed China was unfit for regional leadership.

Ms Bishop counter-attacked, describing the commentary as "profoundly ignorant".

The spat attracted coverage in China's tabloid newspaper the Global Times and one reader likened Australia to the "sharp claws" of a koala.

Asked if that was a dig at her, Ms Bishop laughed and said the reference could be about being "cuddly like a koala".

Trade liberalisation, security and strategic issues such as North Korea are likely to be on the G20 foreign ministers' agenda.