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Australians and New Zealanders can expect visa-free travel to China, promises Li

Premier Li Qiang’s trip to the two South Pacific nations ends today, and has yielded a number of cooperation agreements
  • Both New Zealand and Australia’s Prime Ministers voiced some differences of opinion with China, but relations ultimately appear to have improved after the visit

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Chinese Premier Li Qiang has said that visa-free travel is on the horizon for New Zealanders and Australians, though did not elaborate on details, the South China Morning Post reports.

Li made the announcements during his recent state visits to the two countries. He was in New Zealand last week, and is in Australia until later today, when he heads to Malaysia.

The overall outcomes of meetings with his antipodean counterparts – Christopher Luxon in New Zealand and Australia’s Anthony Albanese – were positive. Li described his talks with the two leaders as “candid.”

[See more: China, Japan and South Korea conclude their first trilateral summit in over four years]

Regarding disagreements between China and Australia, Li said he and Albanese had “agreed to properly manage them in a manner befitting our comprehensive strategic partnership.”

Albanese, who had highlighted mutual differences in “histories, political systems and values,” said his country would “cooperate with China where we can, disagree where we must and engage in the national interest.”

Despite being major trade partners, China and Australia have been at geopolitical odds in recent years. Australia is a member of the trilateral security partnership Aukus (along with the UK and US) – an attempt by Washington to constrain China. 

[See more: São Tomé and Príncipe strengthens military ties with Russia]

At a press briefing in Australia, Li said that Sino-Australian relations were now “on the right track of steady improvement and development.” He also noted that cooperation “in energy, mining, new energy vehicles, green development and the digital economy” was set to grow.

In New Zealand, Li and Luxon announced new agreements on trade, climate change and other issues, AP reported. The New Zealand prime minister hailed Li’s visit as a renewed opportunity for business between the two countries. 

Differences were also on the table, with Luxon saying that the “longstanding” relationship between Wellington and Beijing permitted differing opinions and disagreement.

“The ability to be able to talk very directly and very upfront about issues that we might disagree on … is actually a very good thing,” Luxon said. “It might be uncomfortable at times for both parties, but at least we’re actually able to do that.”

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