Albanese rules out complying with China’s «demands» to reactivate relations

El primer ministro de Australia, Anthony Albanese. – AAPIMAGE / DPA

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Monday that he will not comply with the «demands» proposed by China to improve relations between the two countries, although he clarified that the goal is to build «good relations» as long as they do not contravene Australia’s interests.

«We will cooperate with China as far as we can. I want to build good relations with all countries. But we will defend Australia’s interests when necessary,» Albanese said at a press conference on Monday, reports Bloomberg.

Asked about the four «actions» proposed by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to improve relations between Canberra and Beijing, Albanese said he would not respond to these «demands».

China has asked Australia to act as a «partner rather than a rival», to «reserve» their differences while deepening their relations and above all not to let themselves be controlled «by a third party». Demands proposed by Wang to his Australian counterpart, Penny Wong, last Friday when they met.

For his part, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, has preferred not to refer to Albanese’s latest statements and has limited himself to pointing out the importance of «working with China in the same direction».

«We hope that Australia can take the opportunity to change its perception and form a correct one towards China», as well as work «in the same direction, accumulate positive energy and reduce the negative dimensions», said the spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Since Albanese won the election in May, the two countries seem more willing to bring closer together positions that had drifted apart during the previous conservative government of Scott Morrison, whom China has blamed for this deterioration. After the Morrison government slipped China’s responsibility in the coronavirus pandemic by calling for an international investigation into the matter, Beijing reacted by imposing tariffs on some of the exports of what has always been one of its main economic partners.

Last month, the foreign and defense ministers of the two countries met in a new attempt to bring their positions closer together. However, Canberra insists that any gesture must be accompanied by the lifting of these economic sanctions, which, for the moment, Beijing is not contemplating.

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