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Chinese Ambassador’s hopeful message on troubled relationship with Australia

China’s top representative in Australia says his country is willing to go “halfway” on repairing the relationship.

Ambassador Xiao Qian began his post in Canberra last month and says the appointment is a sign the Chinese Government wants open communication with the federal government.

“This relationship is very important and this is good for both sides, and now we’re in a difficult situation,” the ABC reported Mr Xiao as saying.

“But from the Chinese side, we’re ready to work together with our Australian counterparts to move towards the same direction [with] joint efforts, so we can move this relationship back on the right track, back to the right direction.”

Chinese Ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian says he wants to get the relationship ‘back on track’.
Camera IconChinese Ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian says he wants to get the relationship ‘back on track’. Credit: Supplied

The comments came on Thursday at a function hosted by the Chinese embassy to honour NSW senior constable Kelly Foster, who died in January 2021 while attempting to rescue Chinese student Jennifer Qi.

The pair were part of the same canyoning group and Ms Qi also lost her life after being caught in a whirlpool in the NSW Blue Mountains.

Ms Foster’s parents were presented with the Great Wall Commemorative Medal by the Ambassador in recognition of their daughter’s courage.

The Chinese Embassy hosted an event to honour senior constable Kelly Foster, who drowned while trying to rescue Chinese student Jennifer Qi.
Camera IconThe Chinese Embassy hosted an event to honour senior constable Kelly Foster, who drowned while trying to rescue Chinese student Jennifer Qi. Credit: Supplied

“Today’s event is more of a humanitarian event; it’s not about politics, not about diplomacy,” Mr Xiao said.

“It’s about people to people friendship, humanitarian spirit, about our admiration for Kelly Foster and our respect for the Australian police, their dedication and professionalism.”

Relations between the countries soured significantly in 2020 when Australia led the call for an international inquiry into Covid-19.

China subsequently slapped tariffs on Australian products including wine, beef, barley and lobster.

The Chinese foreign ministry has repeatedly blamed Australia for damaging the relationship while denying the tariffs were punitive.

Other reasons cited by China for the breakdown include Australia’s exclusion of Chinese telco Huawei from the country’s 5G network and political stances on Taiwan, Hong Kong and the treatment of Uyghur people in Xinjiang.

QUESTION TIME
Camera IconPrime Minister Scott Morrison was accused of using the damaged relationship to discredit opposition leader Anthony Albanese. NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

Several Australian ministers have reported being unable to get in contact with their counterparts in Beijing.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison ramped up anti-China rhetoric in parliament last week, accused of trying to score political points by labelling the opposition China’s “preferred party”.

Asked by the ABC about the lack of diplomatic communication between the countries, Mr Xiao replied channels were already open.

“Being the ambassador newly appointed is a symbol from the Chinese side that I’m here to communicate with our Australian counterparts [but] the channel is open,” he said.

“And I would rather prefer to continue to communicate with our Australian government officials through diplomatic channels. There are many things we have in mind, there are many things we can discuss.

“And we’ve just started engagement (involving) myself with various sectors of the Australian government. I’m looking forward to future opportunities.”

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