Chinese President Xi Jinping and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese agreed on Monday to further improve bilateral ties, with Albanese becoming the first leader from the Pacific nation to visit China in seven years amid an easing of strained relations.
In his opening remarks, Xi said he was "heartened to see" that the Sino-Australian relationship has "embarked on the right path of improvement and development," adding that healthy and stable ties serve "the common interests of our two countries and two peoples."
Albanese responded, "A strong relationship between our two countries will be beneficial into the future," and called for communication where differences arise. "From communication comes understanding," he said, according to an official transcript released by his office.
Bilateral relations had soured in recent years over a series of issues, including human rights concerns in China and Canberra's call for an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Albanese is on a four-day visit to China through Tuesday. The two leaders met at the Great Hall of the People in the Chinese capital.
The Australian leader said he discussed with Xi Beijing's bid to join a Pacific free trade pact, which includes Australia, Japan, countries in the Americas, Asia, and Europe. However, he did not clarify whether he backs China's application, saying, "We weren't there to negotiate those issues today."
Accession to the pact, commonly known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, needs a unanimous agreement by all of the existing members. Canberra and Tokyo have struck a cautious stance on Beijing's bid to join the treaty.
As a caution against the efforts made by the United States and its allies to contain China, Xi told Albanese that their countries must remain vigilant and oppose "those attempts to mess up the Asia-Pacific region," according to state-run China Central Television.
Australia is a member of frameworks including the Quad, involving the United States, Japan and India, as well as a security partnership called AUKUS, involving Britain and the United States.
Xi also said China is willing to carry out more trilateral and multi-party cooperation with Australia to support South Pacific countries in coping with climate change and other challenges, CCTV said.
Since Albanese took office in May last year, he has worked to mend bilateral ties after they deteriorated under the government of his predecessor, Scott Morrison.
In 2020, Beijing imposed sanctions on Australian wine, barley and coal. China, Australia's largest trading partner, has since lifted its import restrictions on the country's coal and barley and has been reviewing tariffs imposed on imports of wine.
On Sunday, Albanese attended a major trade fair in Shanghai with Chinese Premier Li Qiang. During his keynote speech, Li reiterated Beijing's intention to pursue accession to the TPP, formally known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The CPTPP entered into force in 2018 with 11 members. In July this year, Britain officially joined the pact, marking the first expansion of the accord and bringing the bloc to cover 15 percent of global gross domestic product.