Foreign Minister Marise Payne has told China’s new ambassador to Australia that Beijing should use its influence to encourage Russia to end its invasion of Ukraine.
Senator Payne met Xiao Qian in Sydney on Wednesday, with a reading from the Australian government saying the Foreign Secretary “outspoken Australia’s position on a range of issues”.
These issues included the importance of “appropriate ministerial and other high-level dialogue and engagement, stability in the Indo-Pacific, free and open trade, human rights and be Australians detained in China,” the reading read.
“Australia remains committed to a constructive relationship with China in which we can pursue areas of cooperation while remaining consistent with our own national sovereign interests and focusing on stability.”
Labor Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong revealed the ambassador had also sought to arrange meetings with the opposition and would liaise with the Foreign Secretary’s office.
“It’s a good thing that the ambassador has sought to meet with the foreign secretary, whatever the difference, the engagement is important. Neither country is leaving,” Senator Wong told SkyNews.
But the senator said the commitments should be in line with conditions to protect Australia’s national interests.
“We will ensure that we engage with Marise (Payne) and her office so that there is very clear, consistent and bipartisan messaging from both parties in government on what we consider important from an Australian perspective,” said she declared.
On Thursday, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese gave a major foreign policy speech at the Lowy Institute outlining how Australia should approach a more aggressive China.
“Our approach to relations with China will be determined by our interests and values: a commitment to international law, rules-based trade and respect for human rights, and reinforced by our regional partnerships and alliances,” did he declare.
Mr Albanese said Beijing had failed in its obligations as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council by facilitating Russia’s relief from international sanctions through trade.
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s growing assertiveness has manifested itself in the takeover of Hong Kong, the crackdown on human rights in China and the militarization of the South China Sea, Albanese said.
“More generally, Australia still faces threats such as foreign interference, espionage, terrorism, organized crime and cyberattacks,” he said.
“These vulnerabilities are often exploited by autocratic countries seeking to increase their power.”
Defense Minister Peter Dutton said authoritarian expansionism required an increase in Australia’s military capabilities in space, cyber, naval warfare and autonomous vehicles to enhance deterrence.
Australian Associated Press