Ditch trade bans and we’ll talk, Albanese tells China

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has told China it must remove trade bans on Australian goods if it wants to improve relations between the two countries.

Attending the Quad summit in Tokyo with the leaders of the US, India and Japan, the prime minister urged Beijing to lift the trade tariffs it had imposed on Australian exports.

"Australia seeks good relations with all countries," Albanese said.

READ MORE: Chinese foreign minister to visit Solomon Islands amid security pact worry

"But it's not Australia that's changed, China has. It is China that has placed sanctions on Australia. There is no justification for doing that. And that's why they should be removed."

For the past two years, China imposed trade bans on Australian goods such as barley, wine, coal and seafood.

Relations have been at their lowest point for the past couple of years following disputes over trade, the origins of COVID-19, and accusations of Chinese interference in Australian domestic politics.

But after Labor's Federal election victory on Saturday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang sent Albanese a congratulatory message and called for improved relations.

READ MORE: Albanese says Australia will 'strengthen' US alliance

China's security agreement with the Solomon Islands was also discussed by the Quad leaders on Tuesday. China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi will travel to the Solomon Islands this week to formally sign the deal.

Albanese also discussed the Ukraine crisis in his first meeting with US President Joe Biden.

Biden "commended Australia's strong support for Ukraine since Russia's invasion, and the leaders agreed on the importance of continued solidarity, including to ensure that no such event is ever repeated in the Indo-Pacific," a White House statement said.

The four Quad leaders wrapped up the summit overnight with a joint statement that vowed their "steadfast commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific that is inclusive and resilient."

The statement highlighted "challenges to the maritime rules-based order, including in the East and South China Seas" — both waters that have long been contested, with overlapping territorial claims by numerous countries.

China claims almost all of the vast South China Sea as its sovereign territory. It has been building up and militarising its facilities there, turning islands into military bases and airstrips, and allegedly creating a maritime militia that could number hundreds of vessels.

The leaders also discussed their responses to the ongoing war and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, and "reiterated our strong resolve to maintain the peace and stability in the region," the statement said.

– Reported with CNN

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