Bishop seeks to quell China tensions
Bishop seeks to quell China tensions

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has talked up Australia's "comprehensive strategic partnership" with China weeks after diplomatic relations were tested by a dumped extradition treaty.

Ms Bishop on Friday joined Attorney-General George Brandis and Meng Jianzhu, who presides over China's powerful political and legal affairs committee, for inaugural high-level security talks in Sydney.

The meetings, which are expected to become a regular fixture in Australia-China relations, were agreed on by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during the latter's visit in March.

"Ours is a comprehensive strategic partnership under which our government-to-government relations have been enhanced, our economic ties have made us both more prosperous, and our community links are deepening," Ms Bishop told the gathering.

"We place great importance on the fact that we have agreed to elevate our existing co-operation on a range of law enforcement and security issues to establish this high-level security dialogue."

The agenda included legal and judicial issues, transnational crime, and co-operation on counter-terrorism and cyber security, Senator Brandis said.

"These are all issues of great importance for both of our nations," he said.

"Our capacity to deal with those issues - to protect the people of our respective countries from criminals, terrorists and those who break the law - will only be enhanced by ever closer co-operation between our two countries."

Mr Meng agreed China shared "ever closer" economic relations with Australia.

"Economic and trade relations between China and Australia have been unrivalled by the relations between other countries and Australia is the first major western economy to sign a free trade agreement with China," he said through a translator.

Australian exports to China grew by 75 per cent in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the previous year, he said.

"China, with its more than 1.3 billion people, is a huge market for Australia."

Chinese tourists made more than one million Australian visits a year and there were more than 260,000 Chinese students in Australia, Mr Meng added.

Australia-China relations became a little frosty this month with the unexpected cancellation of a visit to China and Hong Kong by three Australian MPs.

There was speculation Beijing was offended when Australia joined another 10 countries in signing a letter that questioned China's treatment of human rights lawyers.

China was also disappointed Australia would not ratify a 2007 extradition treaty after Premier Li's trip.

The treaty would have stopped Chinese fugitives from China's anti-corruption campaign from using Australia as a safe haven, but it was doomed to be blocked in the Senate over human rights concerns and shelved a week later.

Ms Bishop described Premier Li's visit as "very successful".

AAP

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