The news that Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong will visit China this week can be seen as a sign that relations between the two countries, which had deteriorated under the previous Australian government, are beginning to improve.
It will be the first visit to Beijing by an Australian minister since 2019. Wong will meet State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and attend the sixth Australia-China Foreign and Strategic Dialogue on Wednesday, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said in a statement, "Australia seeks a stable relationship with China; we will cooperate where we can, disagree where we must and engage in the national interest."
Such a pragmatic approach is the right thing to do in handling diplomatic relations between the two countries. With different political and social systems, it is natural that both countries have differences, but there is always common ground to be found. Cooperation in these areas not only benefits both countries and both peoples it also builds contacts and trust.
It has long been China's foreign policy that ideological differences should never stand in the way of economic cooperation, and that trade and economic cooperation should not be politicized.
Allowing geopolitical concerns to interfere with economic and trade deals is not in the interest of both countries and peoples, which should be a lesson the Albanese government draws from what has happened between the two nations in recent years.
That the business community in Australia has welcomed Wong's visit speaks volumes about how businesses involved in China-Australia trade and economic cooperation have been longing for an upturn in bilateral relations.
Warwick Smith, chairman of the Business Council of Australia's international engagement committee, told Reuters, the meeting is to celebrate 50 years of relations with China and its significance is that "it's a meeting not in a conference but a physical meeting in Beijing". He said that both sides of the political spectrum welcome it "and certainly businesses welcome it".
It goes without saying the business community in China also welcomes a rapprochement between the two countries, which will make things easier for them to do business with their Australian counterparts.
More talks should be held between both governments in a wide range of areas to increase political trust between the two countries. With mutual respect for each other's political systems and without interference in each other's internal affairs, efforts should be made on both sides to let differences stay on the shelf while common ground is expanded with cooperation in an increasingly wide range of fields.
The Australian government should not let itself be swayed by Washington. There is no need for Australia's ties with the US to be at the expense of its relations with China.
Reflecting on the course of bilateral relations over the past 50 years, the two sides should work together to make their relations more stable, resilient and accident-free to set a good foundation for the next 50 years.