China’s foreign minister says he wants the relationship with Australia back to normal as “early as possible”, as the trade war starts to bite.
China’s foreign minister says he wants the relationship with Australia back to normal as “early as possible”, as the trade war starts to bite.

China’s olive branch to Australia

Australia's $20 billion trade war with China could soon ease, with their country's foreign minister saying he wants the relationship back on track.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a private event earlier this month he wanted relations to return to normal as "early as possible", the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Mr Wang spoke at a private Asia Society Policy Institute event hosted by former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd on December 19.

"We hope that the relationship can come back to the right track as early as possible, and we would welcome efforts by all who want the relations to improve to make some efforts," Mr Wang told the former prime minister.

 

The comments come after Mr Rudd asked the foreign minister if there was a way to accommodate a "restabilisation" of the relationship between Beijing and Canberra, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

"If Australia sees China not as a threat, but a partner, then for the issues between us there are better chances that we find solutions. So I would kick the ball to Australia," Mr Wang said.

Chinese tariffs have been imposed on Australian barley with the federal government asking the World Trade Organisation to investigate the measure.

Other Australian products including beef, timber, cotton, lamb, coal and lobster have also been hit by sanctions.

Former prime minster Kevin Rudd Mr Rudd asked the foreign minister if there was a way to accommodate a ‘restabilisation’ of the relationship between Beijing and Canberra. Picture: Patrick Woods.
Former prime minster Kevin Rudd Mr Rudd asked the foreign minister if there was a way to accommodate a ‘restabilisation’ of the relationship between Beijing and Canberra. Picture: Patrick Woods.

The statements come after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was "happy to have a discussion" with China at a UK policy event in November.

But a tweet from a Chinese bureaucrat showing a fake image of an Australian soldier cutting the throat of a child sparked outrage.

It prompted Mr Morrison to label it as "repugnant" and said he wanted an apology from the Chinese government.

But an expert said the Chinese foreign minister's comments should not be "over-interpreted" as a positive signal.

"They are at best mild and conditional," ANU National Security Colleges head Rory Medcalf told the paper.

Originally published as China's olive branch to Australia


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