A mark of success of Australia’s first ministerial visit to China in more than three years will be the “dialogue itself”, Foreign Minister Penny Wong has said.
- Penny Wong said it was “very good” to be in China “after quite a long time between visits”
- Speaking on the tarmac after arriving in Beijing, Senator Wong said she would not pre-empt outcomes from the meeting
- Senator Wong was formally invited by Beijing to visit China this week
Ms Wong arrived in Beijing overnight ahead of a meeting with senior officials and a formal bilateral with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Wednesday.
The Royal Australian Air Force jet landed at about 10:40pm local time on Tuesday.
Senator Wong was greeted by Australia’s Ambassador to China Graham Fletcher and a representative of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the tarmac at the Beijing Capital International Airport, where it was a freezing cold -4 Celsius.
Senator Wong said it was “very good” to be in China “after quite a long time between visits”.
“I acknowledge and thank the government of the People’s Republic of China for the invitation to be here so that we can spend the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries,” she said.
“I look forward to the meeting which we have to (discuss) the issues that are important to us.”
Senator Wong was due to meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday afternoon, as well as taking part in a ceremony and dinner marking the anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Speaking on the tarmac after arriving in Beijing, Senator Wong said she would not pre-empt outcomes from the meeting, but confirmed she would raise issues related to consular cases, human rights, and trade concerns.
“I think the mark of success is dialogue itself,” she said.
“We obviously have a lot of issues to work through and dialogue is a prerequisite for working them through.”
Senator Wong said she would continue to “advocate for the Australians detained as always”.
Asked about human rights, Senator Wong said Australia “always raises the issue of human rights at all levels as appropriate”.
She said Australia believed it was “in the interest both countries for the trade impediments to be removed”.
Senator Wong’s visit officially marks 50 years since the Whitlam government established diplomatic relations with China, but it is the first visit by an Australian minister since diplomatic tensions nosedived in 2019.