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China to add Australia in visa waiver program
Australian Prime Minister Albanese hosts Chinese counterpart Li in Canberra.
China to add Australia in visa waiver program

China will include Australia in its visa waiver program, Premier Li Qiang announced on Monday as he met Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in Canberra.

Li is on a four-day visit to Australia, a first by a Chinese premier since 2017.

"We agreed to provide each other with reciprocal access to five-year multiple entry visas for tourism, business and visiting family members so as to better facilitate personal exchanges. China will also include Australia in its visa waiver program," Li told a joint news conference after the annual leaders’ meeting with Albanese.

“We both stress the importance of maintaining communication and coordination to jointly safeguard peace, stability and prosperity in the region and beyond, in order to safeguard regional peace and development which best serves the common interests of all countries,” he said.

Reaffirming commitment to comprehensive strategic partnership with Canberra, Li said: “We also had a candid exchange of views of some differences and disagreements and agreed to properly manage them."

He called on Canberra to support Hong Kong's accession to Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a trade agreement among Asia-Pacific countries.

Albanese, for his part, said the two sides signed agreements to “further our collaboration on climate action, education, culture, and to enhance our free trade agreement."

In comments to reporters, he said the two sides had “constructive” dialogue and agreed to deepen trade and investment relations besides tackling climate change.

Acknowledging China as a regional and global power, Albanese said Beijing had a role to play “in keeping our region, open and stable and prosperous.”

“As nations with different histories, political systems and values, we will cooperate with China where we can, disagree where we must and engage in the national interest,” he added.

Emphasizing that “dialogue helps,” Albanese said: “I certainly raised our issues in the Pacific, as well as other issues, including human rights, including Dr Yang's case, as well as the Australians who are on death row.”

“We, of course, in Australia oppose capital punishment and I reiterated our position there,” the Australian prime minister said in separate remarks.

Incarcerated Australian academic Yang Jun was given a suspended death sentence by a Chinese court in February. He was arrested in 2019 over spying charges by Beijing.

Albanese said he raised the issue of “ensuring that foreign interference wasn't acceptable in Australia's political system.”

He said the two sides also discussed “improving military-to-military communication so as to avoid incidents.” “We'll have that discussion about how that can be implemented in practice,” he added.

Australian prime minister said he also raised the “issue of the ongoing impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine” with Li.

“With regard to the character of the discussion, on some issues there's immediate agreement, on some issues there is not. We have differences of opinion, but it's important that we be able to express those, that we’re able to be constructive about it,” he said.

Image Credit: © AA

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