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Australian PM Anthony Albanese visits Xi Jinping in Beijing amid thawing relations

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese meets with China’s President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on Monday. Photo by Lukas Coch/EPA-EFE
Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese meets with China’s President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on Monday. Photo by Lukas Coch/EPA-EFE

Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Monday, indicating a thaw in the relationship between the two countries.

The trip marked the first visit by an Australian prime minister to the Chinese mainland in seven years as they discussed trade and the global economy.

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"I believe that we can all benefit from the greater understanding that comes from high-level dialogue and people-to-people links and that a strong relationship between our two countries will be beneficial into the future," Albanese said.

"Where differences arise, it's important that we have communication."

Following a year and a half of efforts aimed at rebuilding relations between the two countries, Albanese said he sought to take "forward" Australia's relationship with China which he said was now "healthy and stable."

Xi said China and Australia had worked together to "work out some problems" in their relationship, which led to the meeting and improvement in their diplomatic ties.

"It is important we keep moving forward the strategic partnership between our two countries," Xi told Albanese.

Albanese also met with the chair, of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, Zhao Leji.

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Albanese confirmed that Xi had expressed China's interest to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

"He asserted China's wish to join the CPTPP just as part of a general issue about global trade and global economic engagement," he said.

The pair also discussed the detention of Australian writer and democratic activist Dr. Yang Hengjun who has been held in China for four years.

A sign of the thawing relationship came last month when Chinese authorities released Chinese journalist and Australian resident Cheng Lei after detaining her for 38 months for alleged espionage.

Behind-the-scenes diplomacy works over trade -- such as Australian barley, coal and timber -- helped to ease the relationship between the two countries and opened the door for Cheng's October release.

China had slapped an 80% tariff on Australian barley during the COVID-19 pandemic before being called off in May.

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