In a rare move, on Tuesday, China extended an invitation "in principle" to Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to visit Beijing on the 50th anniversary of the first trip to China by an Australian prime minister. That first trip was made in October and November 1973 by Gough Whitlam.
The invitation comes after tensions between the two countries thawed last year when Albanese met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the G20 in Bali. It also comes at a time when Beijing has overtaken the United States as a global mediator and has successfully negotiated a rapprochement between former rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran.
This latest invitation is one of many that China has extended recently in an effort to shift the global power dynamic to become more in its favor.
It had previously been reported that Albanese was "anticipating" a visit after years of increasing tensions between the two countries over Australia's close military cooperation with the U.S. and an ongoing trade war with China.
The invitation also comes weeks after Beijing expressed outrage over what it sees as a controversial nuclear submarine deal between the U.S. and Australia as part of the new 'AUKUS' alliance. However, China and Australia have remained committed to improving diplomatic relations, with Beijing directing much of its discontent over the deal toward Washington.
While many specifics of the invitation and anticipated visit remain unclear, Albanese is expected to visit Beijing in September or October, and an invitation has also been extended to Australian trade minister Don Farrell.
Meanwhile, Australia is still struggling with some internal dissatisfaction within its government regarding why Australia is antagonizing China by increasing its military alliance and cooperation with the U.S.
Some of the dissent has come from former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating who stunned the establishment last month when he came out with a scorching attack on the AUKUS nuclear submarine deal with the U.S. and UK. Keating called the deal the "worst international decision" by a Labor government since ordering the conscription during World War I.
In mid-march, Keating released a written statement noting that Australia has now tied itself to the U.S. and argued that the deal is about "U.S. strategic hegemony in Asia" and added that "China has committed, in the eyes of the United States, the great sin of internationalism. And what is that sin? To develop an economy as big as the United States."
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