China to Include Australia in Visa Waiver Program, Premier Li Says

(Bloomberg) -- China will include Australia in its visa waiver program, Premier Li Qiang announced after meeting with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in Canberra, in the latest sign of warming relations between the two countries.

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“We agreed to provide each other with reciprocal access to five-year multiple entry visas for tourism, business and visiting family members,” Li said through a translator. “China will also include Australia in its visa waiver program.”

No initial details were provided on how the program would work. However, a similar announcement in May allowed 12 countries — mainly from Europe but also including Malaysia — to enter China visa-free for up to 15 days for business, tourism or visiting relatives and friends.

Speaking after the annual leaders’ meeting with Albanese on Monday, Li said China and Australia would deepen their cooperation on energy, mining and climate change, while adding they had held a “candid” conversation on differences between the two governments.

Following the meeting, Australia and China signed five agreements across a range of areas, including education, cultural exchanges and trade.

Li’s visit is the first trip to Australia by a Chinese leader of his seniority since 2017, a sign that relations are stabilizing after seven years of diplomatic tensions. The premier is the second-highest official in China.

High-level meetings between Beijing and Canberra had been suspended following allegations of foreign interference made by Australia in late 2017. In 2020, calls by then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison for an independent investigation into the origins of Covid-19 prompted Beijing to impose trade restrictions on Australian exports.

Since the election of Albanese’s center-left Labor government in May 2022, relations between Australia and China have steadily improved.

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