29 October 2009

Chinese visit ends chilly relations over Kadeer’s Australian visa

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China's Vice Premier Li Keqiang’s arrival in Sydney this week seems to mark the end of tensions between Australia and China over a number of issues including the granting of an Australian visa for the Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer.

Relations between the two countries also fell in June over the failed bid by China's state-owned Chinalco for a $19.5 billion stake in Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto, the arrest in China of an Australian executive with Rio over corporate espionage charges.

China lobbied against the granting of an Australian visa to the exiled ethnic Uighur leader, who wanted to attend the screening of a documantary of her life at Melbourne's International Film Festival, and then canceled a top diplomatic visit to Australia after the visa was granted.

Now China's Ambassador to Australia, Zhang Junsai, said both countries had come to a consensus that they must manage their differences  and that the Vice Premier’s visit to Australia reflected the long-term importance of Australia-China ties.

During his visit, Li will meet Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and sign agreements on education, the environment and telecommunications.

Australia's foreign minister this week dismissed the idea of Australian-Sino tensions, saying it was "business as usual".

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