A warning to not fully trust China ahead of Anthony Albanese’s landmark visit to Beijing was “right”, the Acting Prime Minister says.
US President Joe Biden used an official visit from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to caution against trusting promises made by the Chinese Communist government.
“Trust but verify is the phrase,” Mr Biden said at a press conference earlier this week.
Speaking with Nine, Richard Marles said the advice from Mr Biden was on the money.
“What we've been seeking to do from the moment that we’ve come to government is seek to stabilise the relationship with China. It is a complex relationship,” he said.
“China is a source of significant security anxiety for Australia. They’re also our largest trading partner, and precisely because of that complexity is why we need to have diplomatic processes in place.
“We need to be able to interact with China and we need to be able to stabilise the relationship with China, but we do this very much with our eyes wide open.”
Mr Marles’ comments echo those of Mr Albanese, who used a speech at the US State Department overnight to say Australia remains “clear-eyed” about China.
“We are two nations with very different histories, values and political systems. Australia will always look to co-operate with China where we can, disagree where we must and engage in our national interest,” Mr Albanese said.
“Our approach has been patient, calibrated and deliberate, and that will continue when I visit Beijing and Shanghai next month.”
Since coming to power, the Albanese government has sought stabilising ties after a series of disagreements put the diplomatic relationship in the deep freeze.
Mr Albanese urged the US to maintain open lines of communication with China in an address to the US State Department overnight.
“As a great American President (John F. Kennedy) and the father of the current US ambassador to Australia (Caroline Kennedy) proved 60 years ago during the Cuban crisis, the true measure of a superpower’s strength is the ability to pull the world back from the brink of conflict,” he said.
“Once again, that has become the test of our time. China has been explicit: It does not see itself as a status-quo power.
“It seeks a region and a world that is much more accommodating of its values and interests.”
Mr Albanese’s visit to China next week will be the first for an Australian leader since Malcolm Turnbull made the trip to Hangzhou in 2016.
Mr Albanese will meet with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang in a three-day trip to Beijing and Shanghai.
The visit comes after China dropped most of its trade sanctions against Australian exports and the release of detained journalist Cheng Lei.