Chinese state media has warned Australia if it wants to see the relationship between the two countries improve, it must reevaluate its role in the controversial AUKUS pact.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said this week he was confident the relationship would now head in the right direction after ending a diplomatic freeze by meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
It was the first meeting between the countries' two leaders in six years and one that the Morrison government failed to achieve as Beijing slapped a raft of trade sanctions on Australian exports.
And while neither side offered any concessions on previous grievances, the meeting was seen as a step in the right direction.
But infamous nationalistic tabloid the Global Times warned Canberra it must free itself from the shackles of Washington if any progress is to be built on.
"Fraught AUKUS impedes momentum of better China-Australia ties," the headline of an opinion piece published late on Saturday read.
AUKUS branded 'dangerous'
The AUKUS agreement with the US and UK was introduced last year amid growing fears of China's military presence in Indo-Pacific.
The deal was penned to bring nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, a decision which enraged Beijing.
The move was at the expense of a French submarine deal, with President Emmanuel Macron once again voicing his grievances this week, accusing former prime minister Scott Morrison of "re-entering nuclear confrontation".
In the wake of his remarks, the Global Times, a renowned Beijing mouthpiece, branded the deal "a dangerous partnership".
"The pact undermines Australia's sovereignty and serves to provoke China, one of its most important partners. It is a threat to the country's interests," it said.
It was good to discuss our relationship with China’s President Xi Jinping today. It was a positive and constructive discussion. We will cooperate where we can, disagree where we must, and engage in our national interest. pic.twitter.com/WBVAzW7KLR
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) November 15, 2022
Mr Morrison's former defence minister Peter Dutton was regularly accused by China of provoking China by hyping the threat of war in the region – which was part of the reasoning the Morrison government used to justify the deal.
Albanese committed to AUKUS agreement
Mr Albanese however has defended the pact, telling Sky News Australia the move shouldn't be "a surprise" to anyone, calling the US Australia's "most important ally".
The AUKUS agreement was not discussed when Mr Albanese met Xi.
"China has consistently voiced its strong opposition to AUKUS," the Global Times said.
It explained while China is not against military cooperation between nations, it strongly opposes targeting a third country "in an attempt to undermine its interests".
"What Beijing hopes for Canberra is that the latter will not follow the US blindly in challenging China's interests, becoming a pawn in the US' Indo-Pacific Strategy to contain China," it said.
"AUKUS is clearly a threat to regional peace and security, as well as a barrier to improving China-Australia ties.
"If Canberra chooses to ignore Beijing's concerns over AUKUS, the pact will remain a thorn in the side of China-Australia relations. It is also likely to undermine a clear pathway to the healthy development of bilateral ties."
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