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Xi Jinping: Scott Morrison says Australian government ‘very open’ to talks with China

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was asked a specific question about China among growing tensions with the country. Here’s what he said.

The prime minister has refuted claims the government has resigned itself to the fact it has no high levels of communication with China despite the fact it is Australia’s largest trading partner.

Speaking on Thursday, Scott Morrison insisted the government was “open to dialogue” with Chinese leader Xi Jinping despite reports stretching back to May last year that senior Australian officials can’t get their Chinese counterparts on the phone.

At the time, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham tried to set up a phone call to sort out a growing trade rift between the two countries, but received no response.

The fallout with Mr Birmingham continued after China slapped trade tariffs on Australian products including wine, beef exports and barley.

A flabbergasted Mr Birmingham described China’s actions as “obviously another step in what has been a disappointing, a frustrating and a deeply concerning pattern of decisions by China over quite some period of time”.

China defended its probe of the Australian wine industry, claiming it is not a retaliation to “continuous political provocations” or to the actions of Australian politicians who have “deliberately sabotaged bilateral relations”.

The rift grew after Mr Morrison pushed for an independent inquiry into the COVID-19 crisis and claimed Australia will stand its ground.

This week United States President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart sparked headlines after holding a virtual meeting, the third time President Biden has spoken with President Xi.

The pair shocked with the announcement of the talks after growing tensions between the two nations.

When pressed on Australia’s concerns over Beijing’s silence to Australia, Mr Morrison said the trade with our largest trading partner continues at “very strong levels”.

“The Australian side has always been very pleased to be able to open that dialogue and we welcome that dialogue whenever the Chinese President and other ministers within the Chinese system are happy to meet with Australia,” Mr Morrison said.

“Australia is always very open to that dialogue and engaging that dialogue at whichever opportunity they seek.

“Our positions on issues are very clear. We’re very clear about what our interests are, our security interests, our economic interests.

“We will always stand up for Australia’s interests. There’ll never be any compromise on that.

“But we equally are happy to work with everyone in our region to ensure we have a free and open Indo-Pacific, and that is the focus of our policy.”

Earlier this week, Mr Morrison warned China he will not “sell out” Australia or curb free speech after the emerging superpower lodged a formal complaint against a Liberal senator.

The war of words erupted after Liberal Senator James Paterson gave a speech to the European Parliament accusing China of foreign interference.“ His speech misled the European parliamentarians and the public, which once again reflects his bias and hostility against China,” the Chinese embassy said.

Read related topics:ChinaScott Morrison


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