Australian foreign minister looks to lift Chinese trade sanctions .

Chinese insider warns of 'total war' if Australia 'threatens force'

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Australian foreign minister Penny Wong said on Tuesday that she will push China to lift trade sanctions during her trip to Beijing. Ms Wong is also expected to request consular access to two detained Australians during the visit, which is seen as a step in repairing strained diplomatic ties between Beijing and Canberra.

However, during a media briefing in the Australian capital, Ms Wong attempted to dampen expectations of an immediate breakthrough.

She said: “Many of the hard issues in the relationship will take time to resolve in our interests.

“This will take time, but I do see this visit as another step in the road.”

Ms Wong is set to meet her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Wednesday in what will be the first visit by an Australian minister since 2019.

It also marks the first formal talks in Beijing between diplomats from the two nations since 2018.

Relations between the two countries soured in 2018 after Australia banned Huawei Technologies from its 5G broadband network.

Beijing was also irritated by Canberra when the Australian Government called for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

The AUKUS defence agreement with London and Washington, along with the Australian decision to buy nuclear-powered submarines, are also potential sources of tension.

However, Anthony Albanese’s Labor Government, which returned to power in May after nine years in opposition, has sought to repair relations with China, its top trading power.

A meeting between Prime Minister Albanese and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the fringes of the G20 summit in Bali last month was seen as a step forward.

Australia is requesting consular access for journalist Cheng Lei and writer Yang Hengjun who are detained in China and awaiting sentencing following national security trials.

A spokesperson for Australia’s foreign affairs department confirmed that the federal government had not received any advice from Beijing about “any imminent judicial outcomes” for the pair.

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Ms Wong will also attend the sixth Australia–China Foreign and Strategic Dialogue in Beijing.

This will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Australia and China.

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