/ 07 September 2023

(Re)opening the Dialogue

Grunge country flag illustration (cracked concrete background) / China vs Australia (Political or economic conflict)
Grunge country flag illustration (cracked concrete background) / China vs Australia (Political or economic conflict)

Aussies representing professional services, academia, government and the arts are in Beijing today for talks with their Chinese counterparts. The meeting is the 7th Australia-China High-Level Dialogue, and it returns this year after Oz-China tensions saw a 3-year hiatus. Government ministers won’t be there today – the talks are designed to increase understanding rather than negotiate policy outcomes. To that point, Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong says the event “represents another step towards increasing bilateral engagement and stabilising our relationship with China”.

Leading the 18-member Aussie delegation as co-chair is former Labor frontbencher Craig Emerson, along with Coalition alumni Julie Bishop. Other notable Aussies include DFAT Secretary Jan Adams, Tourism and Transport Forum boss Margy Osmond, and business whisperer Warwick Smith. On the other side of the table, China’s former foreign minister Li Zhaoxing will lead Chinese delegates. As for what they’ll be discussing, the main focus is rebuilding the friendship – something Chinese state media reports its officials feel “cautiously optimistic” about. And there’s a bit of relationship-building going on this week with players across the region. PM Anthony Albanese and Minister Wong were in Jakarta yesterday for ASEAN – that’s the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit.

Albanese announced $95 million at the summit’s Indo-Pacific Forum yesterday to boost economic ties between Oz and Southeast Asian nations. He also dropped the Southeast Asian Economic Strategy penned by our Special Envoy for Southeast Asia, Nicholas Moore. It’s an extensive document, but a few of Moore’s key recommendations to increase trade and investment include increasing flights between Oz and Southeast Asia, fast-tracking visas, and reducing investment barriers. It’s a busy week out and about for Albanese… He’ll be the first Aussie leader to visit the Philippines in 20 years when he stops in for defence talks before travelling to India for the G20 Summit this weekend. It’s all on…

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