Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese expressed optimism on Saturday regarding his long-anticipated journey to China, where he is scheduled to meet with President Xi Jinping and

Premier Li Qiang. He described this historic visit as a "very positive step" in the ongoing efforts to mend strained bilateral relations.

Albanese's arrival on Saturday marks a significant milestone, as he becomes the first Australian leader to visit China since 2016. The purpose of this visit is to mend relations that had steadily deteriorated over the years due to disputes involving the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, espionage concerns, and the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking from Darwin, the capital of Australia's Northern Territory, Albanese emphasized the significance of this visit, stating, "The fact that it is the first visit in seven years to our major trading partner is a very positive step, and I look forward to constructive discussions and dialogue with President Xi and Premier Li during my visit. It is a result of the patient, calibrated, and deliberate approach that we have to the relationship with China."

Albanese's government has credited itself with improving relations with China since taking office last year. Notably, China has lifted many of the trade restrictions that were imposed during a 2020 diplomatic dispute, which had a significant economic impact, costing Australia $20 billion in commodity and food exports.

During his visit, the Australian leader is set to attend China's top imports fair in Shanghai, an event that will be inaugurated by Premier Li, on Sunday. He will meet with President Xi in Beijing on Monday, where he plans to address concerns related to escalating tensions in the South China Sea.

Additionally, Albanese expressed his intent to raise the case of Australian writer Yang Hengjun, who has been imprisoned in Beijing for four years on espionage charges. He remarked, "The case needs to be resolved," while speaking to reporters on Saturday.

Accompanying the Prime Minister in Beijing, Foreign Minister Penny Wong will participate in discussions on the sidelines of a Group of Seven meeting in Tokyo, as reported by her office. Photo by Australian Government, Wikimedia commons.