Topics: Foreign Minister visit to China;  

02:30PM AEDT
19 December 2022


Simon Birmingham: Thanks very much for coming along. I want to acknowledge that Minister Wong has announced she will be travelling to Beijing to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of Australia-China diplomatic relations. This is an appropriate trip to be undertaken to recognise the 50th anniversary to seek to advance cooperation on areas of mutual benefit, but also importantly to try to advance resolution of the number of difficult issues that exist in relation to Australia-China relations at present.


There is much that our countries have gained from 50 years of diplomatic relations, particularly through the establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership, our free trade agreement, which has underpinned strong economic growth and prosperity across both nations. But in recent times difficulties have occurred due to changes in China and their approach, which have necessitated Australia making tough decisions to protect our foreign investment regime, our critical infrastructure to ensure that our nation’s democracy is secured for the future. And they have been essential but difficult decisions that have seen as a consequence some unfair actions from China, such as the imposition of trade sanctions, the detention of Australians unfairly and indeed a number of other challenging circumstances in terms of regional security, cyber security concerns and of course globally human rights and other concerns.


The test of these talks will be whether trade sanctions are lifted, progress is made for the release of detained Australians and improvements in the security and cyber context that we face. The test indeed is also that Minister Wong needs to be sure that she is raising important issues of principle around respect for international laws in our region, respect for human rights and urging China to use the influence they have for Russia to bring to an end the unfair, illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine.


I wish Minister Wong well in her dialogue. Ensuring that she pursues the national interest does so in a way that gets outcomes for Australia. In seeing the removal of trade sanctions, the release of unfairly detained Australians, a more secure environment in our region and in terms of cyber protections. I wish her well in terms of the pursuit of those agendas and importantly acknowledge the Government continues to stand by the types of policy measures the Coalition put in place for the protection of Australia, of our democracy, of our national interest in a range of ways, and the Government continues to recognise the strategic challenges we face in the current environment.