Chinese Premier Li Qiang will visit Australia this week

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Anthony Albanese has confirmed Australia’s worst-kept diplomatic secret and officially announced that Chinese Premier Li Qiang will visit the country this week – and his first stop will be a visit to Adelaide Zoo.

News.com.au has confirmed he will arrive in Adelaide on Saturday evening and then visit the zoo and meet with wine exporters on Sunday.

Giant pandas Fu Ni and Wang Wang are both based at the South Australian Zoo and have been on loan from China since 2009 under an agreement that was due to expire later this year.

Premier Li is expected to extend this agreement and there are also hopes that China will lift an existing export ban on lobsters as a result of his trip.

However, it is possible that Fu Ni and Wang Wang will be replaced by another pair of pandas. This was first reported following a meeting between Foreign Minister Penny Wong and her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in March.

China was previously by far the largest market for Australian lobsters – over 90 percent of lobsters were shipped there before China banned exports in 2020 for fear of contamination.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed the visit at a press conference in Parliament House at 4pm on Tuesday and reiterated his key priorities for the visit.

“I would certainly welcome the removal of all obstacles to our lobster and our crayfish, our wonderful seafood,” he said.

“Australia has an interest in trading with China, China has an interest in getting our great goods because of the quality. So it’s a win-win situation.”

Mr Albanese was also asked what Australia is considering regarding TikTok, including a possible ban.

“Is our intelligence the same and if so, why are we not on the same path and if not, why not?” he was asked.

“I am surprised that you asked me to reveal our intelligence information at a press conference,” Albanese replied.

In a statement, the Prime Minister said he would welcome the Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Li Qiang, to Australia as a guest of the Government from Saturday 15 June to Tuesday 18 June 2024.

The Prime Minister and Premier Li will hold the annual Leaders’ Summit at Parliament House in Canberra, where they will exchange views on bilateral, regional and international issues.

“Prime Minister Li Qiang’s visit to Australia is an important opportunity for us to engage directly on key issues facing our two countries,” Albanese said.

“China is Australia’s largest trading partner and our economic relationship continues to bring significant benefits to both countries.

“Welcoming the Chinese Premier to our site is an opportunity for Australia to represent our interests by demonstrating our national values, the qualities of our people and the strengths of our economy.

“Australia continues to pursue a stable and direct relationship with China, with dialogue at its core.

“We will work together where we can, disagree where we must, and advocate for our national interest.”

Premier Li Qiang became the eighth Premier of the People’s Republic of China in March 2023; he was personally selected by General Secretary of the Communist Party Xi Jinping.

His visit is the first by a Chinese head of state of his rank to visit Australia since 2017.

Accompanied by the largest Chinese business delegation China has sent to Australia in nearly a decade, Premier Li Qiang will also attend a lunch with wine exporters.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong, Trade Minister Don Farrell and Agriculture Minister Murray Watt will attend the lunch with wine exporters.

After lunch, he will fly to Canberra and visit Parliament House on Monday to attend the Head of State’s Dialogue with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese before departing for Perth.

The Business Council of Australia will host a CEO roundtable in Perth, bringing together senior representatives from the mining industry, banks and agricultural exporters.

The visit follows the Prime Minister’s state visit to Beijing in November, during which he held talks with Xi Jinping and Mr Li, who advocated for more favourable treatment of Chinese investment offers.

The Prime Minister confirmed the visit at 4pm on Tuesday, after remaining tight-lipped about his arrival to journalists on Monday.

“The possible visit of the Chinese premier will be confirmed in the usual manner,” he said on Monday.

“They will confirm it with statements released simultaneously in Canberra and Beijing. That’s what will happen.”

“But of course I said that I welcome the resumption of relations with China. That is a good thing. We want to work together where we can, we will disagree where we have to, but we will stand up for the national interest.”

“And we have a bilateral meeting of heads of state and government every year. Last year I held it in Beijing. This year it will take place here in Canberra.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon announced that Chinese Premier Li Qiang will visit the country on Monday.

It will be the first trip by a Chinese premier to New Zealand since Li Keqiang’s visit in 2017.

There’s more to come

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