More than pandas and lobsters: What Australians are hoping for from the Chinese premier’s visit

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun12,2024
Key Points
  • Li Qiang’s upcoming visit will be the first by a Chinese premier in seven years.
  • China imposed sanctions worth $20 billion on Australian products in 2020. The majority have since been dropped.
  • Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has promised to raise points of contention with the premier.
Australian rock lobster producers are hopeful a visit by Chinese Premier Li Qiang will result in an end to crippling sanctions on their exports.
Beijing’s second-in-command will visit Australia from June 15 to 18, the first trip by a Chinese premier in seven years.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has promised to raise points of contention with Li, including the Chinese military’s dangerous actions towards Australian Defence Force personnel in a number of incidents.
Li will start his visit in Adelaide, where he is expected to announce an extension of the loan of two pandas at the city’s zoo, which was due to expire at the end of the year.

During his stay in the South Australian capital, Li will meet winemakers on Sunday and attend a lunch hosted by Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Trade Minister Don Farrell.

He will then travel to Canberra for talks with Albanese on Monday before finishing his visit in Perth on Tuesday.
The trip is another step towards stabilisation after relations soured during the Morrison government.
Chin imposed sanctions worth $20 billion on Australian products in 2020 after the former Coalition government called for an independent inquiry into the origins of COVID-19.

China has dropped bans on exports since Labor came to office in 2022, with less than $1 billion worth of trade restrictions remaining on rock lobsters and two meatworks.

South Australian lobster fisherman Kyri Toumazos said as a result of the sanctions, the industry’s revenue was between 50 to 60 per cent of its pre-pandemic levels. “The impact has been catastrophic for us,” he said.
“Businesses have chosen to exit the industry. Exporters have chosen to stop trading. Traditional family businesses have had to make the difficult decision of selling their licences.”

Toumazos said the industry was hoping for good news after positive signs and feedback. He said the Chinese market was the most lucrative for Australian exporters, previously importing the vast majority of lobster produced.

Australian National University associate professor Graeme Smith said the trip itself was a demonstration the Chinese were serious about getting relations back on track.
He also noted Beijing’s appetite for the nation’s resources including critical minerals and said the trade sanctions would likely be dropped as a “sweetener” for the visit.
“I don’t see there being a great deal of headway on either side,” he added.
Australian writer Yang Hengjun was and remains in a Chinese prison. Opposition assistant foreign affairs spokesperson Claire Chandler said it was critical the visit was used to discuss issues including the detention of Australians and dangerous military incidents.

“If this visit is spent talking about pandas and emphasising a reliance on exports to China, despite the ongoing coercive and aggressive behaviour of the Chinese Government in a number of areas, then that will be a propaganda victory for Beijing,” she said.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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