China's Xi urges better ties following rare summit with Australian PM

AP - Mick Tsikas

China's President Xi Jinping met Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on the margins of the G20 summit in Bali, marking the first time in five years that the leaders of the two countries have had a formal sitdown.

After years of animosity which has hampered trade ties and prevented top-level meetings, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the conversation in Bali had been "positive and constructive".

Chinese President Xi Jinping said he hoped that soured relations with Australia could be improved.

The talks lasted 32 minutes and took place on the margins of the G20 summit in Bali, but signal a major diplomatic shift.

Australian and Chinese leaders had a brief exchange at the 2019 G20 summit in Japan, but have not had a formal sitdown in more than half a decade.

'Panda bashing'

China's relationship with Australia started to lose altitude in 2018 with increasingly virulent rhetoric from both sides. Australia expressed worry about China's growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region and its stake in strategic Australian assets such as ports and mines. China initially scoffed at Canberra's protests to that effect.

“Somehow Australia is jumping up and down again and again. It is like chewing gum stuck to the bottom of China’s shoe. Sometimes you just have to find a rock and rub it off," according to CCP mouthpiece Global Times editor Hu Xijin, who also accused Australia of “panda bashing”.

Australian products from barley and coal to wine, beef and infant formula have all been subject to Chinese sanctions.

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