SYDNEY, Feb 7 (Reuters) – Australia and New Zealand talked up their relationships with China at a joint prime ministerial news conference on Tuesday in the latest sign of strengthening ties with their biggest trading partner.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and his counterpart Chris Hipkins said they discussed climate change, security, migration and the economy at their meeting in Canberra on Tuesday, the first since Jacinda Ardern resigned as leader in January.
Albanese said he was pleased by the “productive” video meeting between Trade Minister Don Farrell and his Chinese counterpart on Monday, where it was agreed that Farrell would soon travel to Beijing.
“Our position on China is clear that we will cooperate where we can, will disagree where we must and will engage in our national interests. “
“The trade to China is more than the next three highest trading partners combined. It’s in Australia’s national interest to have good economic relations and to trade with China.”
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Hipkins said China was “an incredibly important partner” for New Zealand.
“That doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be areas where we disagree from time to time and we’ll continue to voice our disagreements with China,” he added.
New Zealand has historically taken a more conciliatory approach to China – a stance that has led to pressure from some elements among its Western allies. It is part of the Five Eyes intelligence and security alliance which includes Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States.
Albanese also said further details about the shape of the AUKUS submarine deal between the United States, Britain and Australia would be announced soon after Defense Minister Richard Marles recently met his counterpart in Washington.
“I’m very confident with how AUKUS is proceeding, it’s a positive move,” said Albanese.
Reporting by Lewis Jackson; Editing by Edwina Gibbs
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