Simon Birmingham says he “welcomes” the meeting between Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Chinese President Xi Jinping but says it needs to be understood in the context of decisions by previous Coalition governments.
Importantly the previous governments under Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison had to make many necessary but difficult decisions on foreign investment, on protection of critical infrastructure in safeguarding our democracy, in handling sensitive telecommunications decisions such as the roll of Huawei.
These were difficult decisions and they were always going to cause difficulty in relation to our relationship and engagement with China, but the conduct of these meetings demonstrates that China’s attempts in terms of diplomatic isolation of Australia, the attempted economic coercion through the unfair trade sanctions have not been yielded to, they have not seen any change in Australian policy.
I welcome the fact that the Labor Government has maintained those policy settings of the Coalition and has maintained a recognition that the strategic challenges of the environment we are in have not changed.
Birmingham is asked about the change of tone between the governments, with Albanese dialling back calls for war and the comparisons to the 1930s. He says it is “important that we maintain consistency in policy and a consistency where possible in language as well but that language has to be one that reflects the reality of the challenging circumstances we face.”
I think it is important that we maintain a position in our language and approach to the region that seeks to be as engaging as possible to all partners in the region, as respectful as possible, but also firm in terms of Australia’s national interest and, where necessary, calling ow egregious breaches by others, be that in relation to activities such as in the South China Sea or human rights matters.
Shadow foreign affairs minister Simon Birmingham will be speaking to ABC Insiders on Sunday morning.
We will bring you the latest as it happens.
Australia open to doing business with China: Albanese
Prime minister Anthony Albanese said his meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping was “much more positive than was anticipated”, at the end of his two-week summit season trip.
Asked on Sky News whether Xi had given Albanese “any sort of hope or inkling that he might act on any of those”, the PM said no, but that he had optimism.
No, I think the positive statement from president Xi was that he emphasised that he wanted a better relationship with Australia. So when it comes, for example, to trade, it is in Australia’s interest to export our wine, our meat, our seafood, our wonderful products, our mineral resources. But it’s in China’s interest to receive them as well. This isn’t a charity case we’re asking for here. This is, do you want these products that are in demand in China to be traded? It’s in their interest to do it. It’s in Australia’s interest as well. And I’m very hopeful that what we can see now is positive steps forward.
Looking to the domestic picture, ahead of the (potentially) final two weeks of parliament starting on Monday, Albanese said his government was still planning to make an announcement on gas prices in coming weeks.
“We’re having a look at a range of options which are there. I’ll be briefed when I get back to Australia. More work was being done in the last week,” he told Sky.
Further with several contentious and complex pieces of legislation still in progress, including the industrial relations bill and the federal integrity commission, there has been speculation the Senate may be forced to sit for extra sitting days beyond the scheduled end of the parliamentary year next week. Albanese indicated this may be on the agenda.
We might well have to sit extra days and that’s fine. I don’t mind the parliament sitting at all. That’s what we’re paid to do.
So if the Senate needs extra time to give consideration to any matters before it, then I’d welcome that.
Long road ahead on China relationship: Albanese
Prime minister Anthony Albanese has given a round of pre-recorded interviews on Sunday morning covering Australia’s relationship with China and the thinking behind its engagement with its neighbours in south-east Asia.
Speaking to the ABC, Albanese sought to water down expectations of a thaw in the relationship between China and Australia after his meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping, instead suggesting it was the beginning of a “dialogue”.
It was no preconditions for the dialogue, but it was a very constructive, engaging discussion with president Xi. It’s one I appreciated. It clearly is in Australia’s national interests, but also in China’s interests, to have a stabilisation of the relationship.
Albanese said the discussion was “positive and constructive” and that China made clear that it “wants a good relationship” with Australia, though there was no suggestion the country lift $20bn trade sanctions it has imposed against Australia.
The fundamental areas of disagreement – the issue of the South China Sea, the Taiwan Strait, the Uyghurs – all of these issues are ones that have bipartisan support. There’s a bipartisan support for a One China policy, with support for the status quo on Taiwan. These are issues that aren’t the subject of partisanship between Labor and the Coalition.
So they’re Australia’s positions going forward. That clearly is understood. It’s in China’s interests to understand that – that we will continue to have disagreements. We have different political systems. That should not mean that you can’t have economic cooperation. That should not mean that you can’t have dialogue. Because out of dialogue comes understanding.
On Taiwan, Albanese said Australia won’t change its position on Taiwan and refused to be drawn on whether his government may consider sanctions against Myanmar following the release of Prof Sean Turnell.
And welcome to another Sunday morning Guardian live blog.
The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has returned after spending the last nine days meeting international leaders at the regional Asean summit in Cambodia. In a sign of easing tensions, Albanese secured a meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping, the first time leaders of the two countrys have met in six years, though the prime minister has been warned against rising expectations as China’s $20bn in trade sanctions remain in place.
New South Wales residents in flood-hit regions are once again beginning the process of recovery despite continued warnings along several river systems. Authorities say it could be “months” before the rain eases in some places with many areas still without power and water, stopping families from being able to return.
I’m Royce Kurmelovs, taking the blog through the day. With so much going on out there, it’s easy to miss stuff, so if you spot something happening in Australia and think it should be on the blog, you can find me on Twitter at @RoyceRk2 where my DMs are open.
With that, let’s get started …