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Australian prime minister announces China visit hours before leaving for US to meet Biden

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CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will visit China in early November, his office said Sunday hours before he was to fly to the United States to meet President Joe Biden.

Albanese’s office also said that China agreed late Saturday to review the crippling tariffs it placed on Australian wine that have effectively blocked trade with the winemakers’ biggest export market since 2020.

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Albanese will become the first Australian prime minister to visit China in seven years when he travels to Beijing and Shanghai from Nov. 4-7.

“It’s in Australia’s interest to have good relations with China, and certainly though my focus in the coming days will be very much on the visit to the United States,” Albanese told reporters at Australian Parliament House.

“With Australia’s closest partner, talking about the future of our alliance, the future which has been upgraded by the AUKUS arrangements, a future based upon our common values, our commitment to democracy, and our commitment to the international rule of law and stable order throughout the globe,” Albanese added, using the acronym for Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Under the trilateral pact, the U.S. and Britain will cooperate to provide Australia with a fleet of submarines powered by U.S. nuclear technology to counter a more assertive China.

Albanese will meet President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang in Beijing and then attend the China International Import Expo in Shanghai.

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The visit to China and a potential breakthrough in the wine dispute mark a further repair in bilateral relations since Albanese’s center-left Labor Party won elections last year after nine years of conservative rule in Australia.

China has agreed to review its tariffs on Australian wine over five months, Albanese’s office said.

In return, Australia has suspended its complaint against its free trade partner to the World Trade Organization.

A similar dispute resolution plan led to China removing tariffs from Australian barley.

Albanese said reopening the Chinese wine market would be worth more than 1 billion Australian dollars ($631 million) to exporters.

‘We’re very confident that this will result in once again Australian wine, a great product, being able to go to China free of the tariffs which have been imposed by China,” Albanese said.

“It is important that we stabilize our relationship with China. That is in the interests of Australia and China, and it is indeed in the interests of the world that we have stable relations and that is what this visit will represent,” Albanese added.

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The visit comes near the 50th anniversary of Labor Party leader Gough Whitlam becoming the first Australian prime minister to visit the People’s Republic of China in 1973.

Albanese accepted an invitation weeks ago to visit China this year, but finding suitable dates has been challenging.

Albanese is visiting Washington, D.C., to meet Biden this week and will return to the United States after his China trip to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ forum in San Francisco from Nov. 15-17.

It will be the ninth time Biden has met Albanese as prime minister. The first meeting was in Tokyo hours after Albanese was sworn in as government leader in May last year for a leaders’ summit of the Quad strategic partnership that also includes Japan and India.

As well as the AUKUS deal, the leaders will also seek more cooperation on clean energy, critical minerals and countering climate change.

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