Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese speaks at Parliament House on July 28, 2022 in Canberra, Australia. (PHOTO / IC)
Appearing on CNN on Monday, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said his government upholds the one-China principle, and that he is optimistic of Australia improving its diplomatic relationship with China. "We want to have good relations with China and cooperate where we can."
Since the Taiwan question is the most sensitive issue in China's bilateral relations with any country, his clear commitment to the one-China principle provides solid support for joint efforts by the two sides to improve ties.
Sino-Australian relations nose-dived in recent years thanks mainly to the confrontational stance his predecessor took toward China, as he tried to not only toe the line of Washington's "Indo-Pacific strategy" but push Australia into the vanguard of the Washington-orchestrated geopolitical game to contain China.
Former Australian prime minister Scott Morrison spared no efforts to play up fears about China's military might, depicting the country as a threat to Australia's national security as well as regional peace and stability.
He even ganged Australia up with the US and the United Kingdom last year to form the AUKUS security pact to counter China. Doing so controversially contravenes the letter and the spirit of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty with the deal to acquire nuclear-powered submarine technology from the US and the UK.
The election win of Albanese in May made it possible for China and Australia to make overtures with the aim of mending their ruptured ties, as they have served neither side any good. After all, the complementary nature of the two economies has benefited both tremendously. China has long remained Australia's largest trading partner for goods and services.
There have already been some positive signs emerging indicating improved bilateral ties. State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe and his Australian counterpart Richard Marles had a "very full and frank exchange" on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore in June, breaking an almost three-year drought in ministerial talks.
Following that "critical first step", State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met his Australian counterpart Penny Wong on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Bali, Indonesia, on July 8, to explore ways for the countries to get their relations back on track.
As this year marks the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic relations, it would be good for China and Australia, which are still comprehensive strategic partners, to keep the larger picture of their mutually beneficial relationship in mind and work jointly to address their differences.