At Quad summit, Australia’s new PM scolds China over trade tariffs
SYDNEY: New Prime Minister Anthony Albanese rebuked China on Tuesday (May 24) for imposing hefty tariffs on Australian exports two years ago, in remarks made while attending a regional security conference in Tokyo a day after being sworn in.
Albanese confirmed that he had received a letter of congratulations from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang after winning an election on Saturday, but said he had still to reply to the leader of Australia’s biggest trading partner.
“We will respond appropriately in time, when I return to Australia,” Albanese told journalists in Tokyo, where he was attending a summit of the Quad group along with US President Joe Biden and the prime ministers of Japan and India.
Albanese said he was more concerned about wide-ranging tariffs on Australian goods from coal to lobster, imposed by China just a few years after the two countries implemented a free trade agreement.
“It’s not Australia that has changed, it’s China,” Albanese said.
“It’s China that has applied sanctions on Australia. There is no justification for doing that. And that’s why they should be removed”.
There had been speculation in Australian media that the congratulatory message from Xi might signal a diplomatic thaw.
Relations have been at their lowest ebb for the past couple of years following clashes over issues ranging from trade to the origins of COVID-19, and accusations of China using the internet to meddle with Australia’s democracy.
National security, specifically in relation to China, was among the main election issues in Australia, and only weeks before polling day the Solomon Islands and China announced a security pact, sparking fears of a Chinese military build-up less than 2,000km away.
The stance Australia’s new premier adopts at the Quad summit could be closely watched by China, which regards the informal security grouping as an attempt to counter its influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
With votes still being counted, Albanese’s Labor Party is leading on 75 seats – one short of the 76 required for a majority in the 151-seat lower house. Some analysts predict Labor will get enough seats to govern on its own. REUTERS
‘You can fall asleep now’: Joe Biden to new Australian PM
Wishing a newly elected fellow world leader good luck is one thing, but US President Joe Biden also wants Australia’s Anthony Albanese to have a good night.
Meeting Tuesday at the Quad summit in Tokyo — the loose grouping of Australia, India, Japan and the United States — Biden expressed admiration that Albanese made the long flight right after winning his election as prime minister.
“I welcome you to your first Quad meeting,” said Biden, who had to make an even longer journey from Washington for his first presidential Asia trip, starting in South Korea before hopping to Japan.
“Like I said, you got on a plane — you were sworn in and got on a plane,” Biden said.
So “if you fall asleep while you’re here, it’s OK, because I don’t know how you’re doing it. It’s really quite extraordinary — just getting off the campaign trail as well.”
After the Quad summit, Biden and Albanese are due to hold separate bilateral talks.
Biden will also meet separately with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while Albanese is to hold talks with Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. – REUTERS / https://www.indiatoday.in/
Australia’s Albanese said strong views expressed in Quad meeting on Russia
Speaking to reporters after talks in Tokyo between the leaders of the United States, Japan, India and Australia, and before a leaders’ statement was issued, the newly installed Australian leader said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “was discussed and you will see reference in the statement”.
“The Russian unilateral, illegal, immoral attack on the people of Ukraine is an outrage and the atrocities being committed on innocent civilians is something that we couldn’t have expected in the 21st century,” he said, citing what he had told fellow leaders about Australia’s view.
Asked about Biden’s comments, Albanese said there was “no change” in Australia’s position on Taiwan.
“There should be no unilateral change to the status quo,” he said. REUTERS
CNA / https://www.indiatoday.in/ REUTERS