New Chinese ambassador to Australia sends ‘goodwill’ to restore bilateral ties

Ambassador Xiao Qian (centre), the People’s Republic of China’s new Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Commonwealth of Australia arrived in Australia on January 26, 2022 to take up his post. Photo: Chinese Embassy in Australia

Xiao Qian, a former Chinese ambassador to Indonesia and a veteran diplomat, took up his post as Chinese ambassador to Australia on Wednesday. In his opening remarks, he noted that China and Australia should stand firm in the right direction to push forward bilateral relations.

Analysts noted that the new ambassador’s message, which was sent on Australia’s National Day, was a gesture of kindness and goodwill to reset and improve relations, which are at an all-time low. They stressed that the Morrison administration should correct its bad China policies.

“A strong China-Australia relationship serves the fundamental interests of both countries and peoples. China and Australia differ in history, culture, social systems and stages of development, but as long as we adopt a long-term and comprehensive perspective, adhere to the principle of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, and stand firm in the right direction of bilateral relations, China-Australia relations will continue to move forward and make progress,” Ambassador Xiao said in a message released by the Chinese Embassy in Australia on Wednesday.

The Chinese Embassy in Australia is committed to advancing exchanges and cooperation in various fields between the two countries and promoting the healthy and steady development of bilateral relations, Xiao said, noting that he hopes the site The Internet of the Chinese Embassy would serve as a window for friends from all walks of life to better understand China and Sino-Australian relations, and be a bridge to facilitate exchanges and cooperation between the two countries.

The message from the new ambassador was released on Wednesday January 26, which marks Australia’s National Day. The ambassador’s message carries with it kindness and willingness to improve bilateral relations, Chen Hong, professor and director of the Center for Australian Studies at East China Normal University, told the Global Times.

Chen said this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Australia, which means this year will be a good opportunity for the two countries to restore their damaged relations.

Ambassador Xiao was working in Indonesia, an important neighbor of Australia. He also knows Australia and its Asian neighbours. His rich diplomatic experience will also help clear up misunderstandings, Chen noted.

Xiao, who was born in 1964, is a seasoned diplomat who has worked in many countries, including India, the United States, the Philippines and Hungary.

Prior to coming to Australia, Xiao served as China’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Indonesia from 2017 to 2021. Prior to that, he served as Deputy Representative for Korean Peninsula Affairs and Ambassador for Asian Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2015. to 2016.

On October 29, 2020, Xiao, who was then Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia, responded strongly to then-US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s remarks on China’s threats during Pompeo’s visit to Indonesia.

Xiao said the cogs of human history keep moving forward with the trend of inevitable peace. A few US politicians should abandon their wrong and hostile policy towards China, stop sowing discord and interfering with China’s friendly cooperation with regional countries, stop destroying regional peace and stability, and stop trampling international order and international justice, otherwise it will only end in total failure.

The year 2021 has seen the deterioration of relations between China and Australia due to the latter closely following the United States in making continuous provocations against China on issues related to China’s core interests.

China’s former ambassador Cheng Jingye left his post in October 2021 and, in a statement bidding farewell to the country, Cheng said the current difficult situation in China-Australia relations was “saddening” and he hoped it could be improved.

However, contrary to China’s goodwill measures, judging by a series of measures taken since the beginning of the year, the Morrison administration does not seem willing to improve the bilateral relations it has damaged, said analysts.

The Australian Prime Minister appeared to err further by targeting China. During his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 21, he took aim at China over what he called “economic coercion”, foreign interference and cyberattacks.

The Morrison administration and Australian media also accused China of “blocking” Morrison’s public WeChat account this week.

Some anti-China hawks in the Morrison administration are working hard to push China-Australia relations to a new low, which also means Ambassador Xiao’s job is difficult, Chen said.

Chen said Australia’s former leaders faced more adversaries when they planned to establish diplomatic relations with China in 1972, but they succeeded anyway. Therefore, the key to improving bilateral relations lies in the determination of Australian leaders to bring about change and the ability of the Morrison administration to make corrections.

Without concrete clashes or territorial disputes, since 1972, China and Australia have built a win-win relationship, which has enhanced the mutual trust and understanding of the two peoples and benefited both.

If bilateral relations could be reset in the right direction, it would also be good for the two countries and the world in the post-COVID-19 era, Chen noted.

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