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Chinese Premier Li urges 'shelving differences' with Australia

Chinese Premier Li urges 'shelving differences' with Australia
June 15, 2024 Web Desk

SYDNEY (AFP) - Chinese Premier Li Qiang called Saturday for "shelving differences" with Australia as he launched a visit centred on the promise of economic opportunities.

Li offered the olive branch after landing in Adelaide for a four-day diplomatic trip, which comes after China lifted punitive trade sanctions against a string of major Australian exports. "History has proven that mutual respect, seeking common ground while shelving differences and mutually beneficial cooperation are the valuable experience in growing China-Australia relations, and must be carried forward," he said in a written arrival statement.

"A more mature, stable and fruitful comprehensive strategic partnership will be a treasure shared by the people of both countries." Li -- the second most powerful man in China after President Xi Jinping  -- touched down in Adelaide at the start of his diplomatic mission across the resource-rich continent.

He is the highest ranking Chinese official to visit Australia since 2017. China has gradually removed swingeing trade sanctions on wine, timber, barley and beef exports imposed in 2020 during a diplomatic rift with a former conservative government. The measures cost Australian exporters an estimated Aus$20 billion ($13 billion) a year.

Economic relations between the two countries have eased since Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's government took power in 2022 and adopted a softer diplomatic approach to Beijing.