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China says it is considering maritime talks with Australia

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian speaks during a press conference in Beijing, China March 20, 2024.

Posted on March 25, 2024

China is considering launching talks on maritime affairs with Australia, a foreign ministry spokesperson said on Thursday, as increased tension among several nations bordering the South China Sea threatens regional security.

The ministry announced the talks on the final day of a visit to Australia by China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, who met his counterpart and other leaders of the country this week to discuss trade and differences over regional security.

Australia and China, its largest trading partner, are rebuilding ties after relations hit a low in 2020 when Canberra called for an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19, and Beijing responded with barriers to trade.

Most have been lifted since a change in the Australia government two years ago.

Maritime issues have been a hot-button topic between China and Australia amid growing confrontations in the vital economic waterway that China claims almost in its entirety, despite overlapping claims by many Southeast Asian nations.

“Both sides agreed to restore and establish dialogue in various fields,” said Lin Jian, the foreign ministry spokesperson, in response to a query on the visit, adding that both are also considering launching talks on maritime issues.

Other areas in which both will look to promote co-operation include diplomacy, trade, technology, education and law enforcement, he added.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said the country is concerned about unsafe and destabilising behaviour in the South China Sea amid confrontations between Chinese and Philippine vessels in disputed waters.

The two have had altercations over disputed atolls, most notably the Second Thomas Shoal.

In November, Australia also criticised China for an “unsafe and unprofessional” naval interaction between their vessels that injured Australian military divers.

In a joint statement this month, Australia and the ASEAN regional grouping said all countries should refrain from unilateral action in the South China Sea that endanger peace, security and stability in the disputed area.

China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, angering neighbouring countries, which dispute some boundaries they say cut into their exclusive economic zones.


In a readout on Thursday of a meeting with the premier of New South Wales in Sydney, Wang said many Australians from the government and various sectors support the improvement and development of bilateral relations.

“The greatest feeling from this visit to Australia is that both the Australian ruling party and opposition party, the business and strategic circles, officials and ordinary people support the strengthening of dialogue and cooperation between China and Australia in various fields,” he said.

Wang also said China is willing to work with Australia to consolidate and expand cooperation in sectors such as energy, mining, agricultural products and dairy products.

China’s commerce ministry said on Thursday it welcomed Australia’s decision to drop anti-dumping measures against Chinese wind turbines and is willing to work together on climate change.


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