China visit by Australian trade minister unlikely to improve ties: experts

By Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2018/5/16 22:53:40 Last Updated: 2018/5/16 23:48:24

The first visit to China in eight months by any Australian minister may not ensure a recovery in bilateral ties if Canberra does not abandon its hostile policy, Chinese analysts said on Wednesday.

Trade Minister Steven Ciobo is expected to arrive in Shanghai on Thursday and deliver a keynote speech at a business awards ceremony, but Canberra is not showing any sign of altering its unfriendly policy toward China, the observers noted.

A main speaker at the annual AustCham Westpac Australia-China Business Awards, Ciobo will also attend Asia's largest food and beverage exhibition, SIAL China.

During his three-day visit, Ciobo will promote the second annual Australian Football League match at Shanghai's Jiangwan Stadium on Saturday between Port Adelaide and the Gold Coast, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

"Australia treats its trade ties with China seriously as it is enjoying a surplus from bilateral trade," Yu Lei, a research fellow at the Oceania Research Center of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangdong Province, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

"It doesn't want to see trade impacted by political and diplomatic factors."

Ciobo on Wednesday was quoted by Xinhua as saying China was "Australia's largest trading partner, largest source of tourists, fifth-largest direct investor and an important partner for regional cooperation. Growing trade, tourism and investment with China will create new Australian jobs."

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's government has been under pressure from Australian industrial and commercial circles for its unfriendly policy toward China , Yu said.

Ciobo's visit will attempt to somewhat pacify domestic groups rather than act as a turning point for bilateral ties, he said.

"There's no evidence to show that Turnbull's government wants to make a major change," Yu said. "The APEC [Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation] meeting this year will be held in Papua New Guinea, which is an island country in the north of Australia on which Canberra can exert significant influence, and Turnbull is very likely to make trouble for China and favor the US in setting the agenda for the meeting.

"Therefore, we need more time to observe Australia's behavior."

Australia doesn't need to choose sides between China and the US, said Xu Liping, a researcher with the National Institute of International Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"The best position for it is to play the role of a bridge rather than stand on one side and make trouble for the other."

Newspaper headline: Australia trade minister to visit Shanghai

Posted in: DIPLOMACY

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