Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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When Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese met with China’s President Xi Jinping in Beijing on November 6th, it marked the first such visit in seven years, signaling a potential shift in the strained relations between the two nations. The meeting, occurring on the 50th anniversary of Australia’s establishment of diplomatic ties with China, aimed to symbolize a significant step towards normalization, as both leaders emphasized the importance of bilateral cooperation and engagement.

The tension between the two countries stemmed from various issues, including China’s desire to exert influence over Australia and the latter’s bolstered security collaboration with the United States in response to China’s increasing assertiveness. Australia’s restrictions on Chinese telecommunications company Huawei and concerns about Chinese interference and surveillance within the country further exacerbated the situation. China retaliated by imposing embargoes on several Australian exports, leading to economic challenges for both countries.

However, Australia’s resilience in the face of Chinese pressure, supported by its business community finding alternative markets, has led to a thaw in relations. Many embargoes have been lifted, and the recent release of Cheng Lei, an Australian journalist detained in China, has been seen as a positive development. Nonetheless, some experts caution against underestimating China’s potential for continued coercion, emphasizing the need for Australia to remain vigilant.

Despite recent diplomatic progress, challenges persist, particularly concerning the delicate balance between Australia’s security alliance with the US and its substantial economic ties with China. While Australia has successfully navigated this complex relationship so far, ongoing pressures from both China and the US could pose continued challenges in the future, underscoring the need for cautious diplomacy and strategic decision-making.

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