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After Years of Acrimony, China and Australia Cautiously Reach Out

After Years of Acrimony, China and Australia Cautiously Reach Out

SYDNEY, Australia — Four years after Australia’s ties with China entered a downward spiral, with Australia emerging as an energetic counterweight to Beijing’s growing might, the two countries have begun to explore whether they can patch things up.

Since Australia’s new, center-left government came to power last month, leaders in both countries have signaled that they want to ease the tensions of recent years. Their disputes over technology, trade barriers, accusations of illicit Chinese influence in Australian politics, and each country’s military plans, have sometimes erupted in vitriol.

China’s ambassador to Australia, Xiao Qian, said on Friday that the change of leadership in Canberra was an “opportunity of possible improvement of our bilateral relations.”

Later, Mr. Xiao said: “The atmosphere in both countries needs be to improved, that’s a fact.”

Mr. Xiao has used speeches, newspaper commentaries, and private meetings to make overtures that Beijing wants better relations. China’s premier, Li Keqiang, sent a congratulatory message to Australia’s new prime minister, Anthony Albanese, after his May election victory, and called for “sound and stable” ties. The Chinese and Australian defense ministers held talks this month at a security forum in Singapore, ending a freeze on ministerial-level meetings since early 2020.

Mr. Albanese has said that he wants to restore high-level dialogue with China, his…

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