Australia's Foreign Minister Penny Wong with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing
Photo: Sarah Friend/AP
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong has arrived in China on an official visit.
Upon arrival in Beijing, Wong expressed her gratitude for the invitation, which was given to mark 50 years of official diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Wong and her counterpart Wang Yi exchanged congratulations, Chinese state media reported.
The visit comes amid diplomatic tensions.
Ahead of her meeting with Wang, Wong had ruled out any rapid improvement in relations with China.
When asked whether she wanted to break the ice, she answered during a walk with the Australian ambassador in Beijing: "The ice is melting, but slowly".
Tensions over military cooperation with the US
Tensions between the two states began when Australia called for an international inquiry into the origin of the coronavirus and Beijing's handling of the outbreak in April 2020.
Since then, China has imposed various punitive tariffs on Australian exports.
Australia withdrew from some projects of the Chinese “New Silk Road” initiative.
However, the relationship between the two countries is tense, mainly because of Australia's security cooperation with the USA.
Australian journalist Cheng Lei, who worked for China's state television, has also been in Chinese custody for more than two years for alleged espionage.
Wong and a small delegation of officials met with Wang at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, pictures released by Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade show.
"We can expand our bilateral ties and safeguard our two national interests if both countries use their differences wisely," Wong said at the start of the meeting.
She added that she and Wang would discuss consular matters, trade blockades, human rights, and global rules and norms that underpin security and prosperity.
Xi sends greetings
China's President Xi Jinping also said on the occasion of the anniversary of Australia-China relations: "I attach great importance to the development of China-Australia relations and am willing to cooperate with Australia," he said in a statement on Wednesday, according to China's state news agency Xinhua greeting message.
The healthy and stable development of relations is in the fundamental interest of both countries, the Chinese head of state continued.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also commented on his foreign minister's visit to China on Monday.
"It is important that we build better relationships with our most important trading partner in the future," the prime minister said at a press conference.
In mid-November, Xi and Albanese met on the sidelines of the Group of Large Economic Nations (G20) summit in Bali, Indonesia, for the first top-level meeting between China and Australia in six years.
Australia established diplomatic relations with the Republic of China in 1941, but these were severed after the Communist Party overthrew the Nationalist government in 1949.
They were not resumed until 1972.