China’s ambassador to Australia said he was working with the Foreign Office on a possible high-level meeting between Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and President Xi Jinping.
There must be action from both sides to move the relationship forward, Ambassador Xiao Qian said.
“Steps need to be taken on both sides to improve the relationship. There is no autopilot mode,” he said.
“Let’s meet halfway. As for exactly where exactly halfway between us, we can talk about that, but we need effort from both sides.
Xiao added that he was trying to find common ground with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
“It’s very important for countries like China and Australia to keep in touch at different levels, including at the highest level,” he said.
“I have tried to compare notes with our Australian colleagues at DFAT to see how we can move forward to create the right atmosphere for a possible meeting at the highest level.
“A high-level meeting is not a meeting for the sake of a meeting, we expect a meeting to be constructive rather than destructive.”
The new Labor government offers an opportunity to reset bilateral relations after they have been strained for the past five years, Xiao said.
“The past is gone. We now have a new Labor government and we are ready to reset our relationship, to look to the future, to see how we move forward for the benefit of both our countries.
The comments come amid a terse bilateral relationship, most recently with Foreign Secretary Penny Wong calling the United Nations report into the mass detention of Uyghurs in China a “heartbreaking read”.
The Chinese ambassador fired back, calling the report “absolute fabrication”.