Australian and Chinese Premiers Hold Talks on Trade, Minerals

by | 17. Jun 2024 - 09:33 | Politics

This is the first time a Chinese Premier has visited Australia since 2017.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang met with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in Canberra on Monday to hold talks on various topics, including trade, military, renewable energies, and critical minerals. Li began his four-day visit to Down Under on Sunday, during which his delegation will also meet with Australian business representatives. This marks the first time a Chinese Premier has visited Australia since 2017 amid challenging relations between the two countries. Albanese and Li agreed to sign multiple memorandums and agreements to enhance dialogue and cooperation on energy, mining, new energy vehicles, education, military, and trade, the two officials said at a press conference following the talks.

Australia’s Resources Stand Center Stage

According to Albanese, China remains Australia’s largest trade partner by far. He also emphasized the role the two countries play for safety and prosperity in the region. China dominates the global critical minerals industry, especially in the refining and processing stages. Australia’s vast resources have become increasingly important for the People’s Republic. For example, Australia is China’s main source of iron ore, and Chinese companies have invested billions in mining projects in Down Under. Countries seeking to diversify from industry leader China have also become increasingly interested in Australia’s raw materials. Just last month, the European Union and Australia signed a partnership to enhance cooperation on critical minerals (we reported).

Li’s visit this week raises the issue of whether Australia will continue to accept Chinese investment into the critical minerals sector. Earlier this month, Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers ordered a Chinese-linked fund to sell its share in an Australian rare earth mine, following Chalmers’s announcement in May to scrutinize foreign investments more strictly.

Photo: iStock/Aleksandra Aleshchenko

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