Asked about the travelling politicians’ intentions, Albanese said: “I have no idea, I’m not going, you should ask them.”
The group includes former leader of the National Party Barnaby Joyce, a spokesperson for Joyce confirmed to Reuters on Saturday. Two Labor MPs are also said to be going.
A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said politicians from various parties regularly travelled to Taiwan before the Covid-19 pandemic and the current delegation “represents a resumption of that activity”.
The group will reportedly meet with Taiwan Presidentand Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, with the visit having support from Taiwan’s foreign ministry.
“Just because we are friends with Taiwan does not mean we can’t be friends with China,” Scott Buchholz, a conservative Queensland MP who is in the delegation, told the paper.
The trip – reportedly kept secret to stop Chinese diplomats in Canberra lobbying for its cancellation – is said also to include meetings on security, trade, agriculture and indigenous affairs.
The visit to Democratic Taiwan, claimed by Beijing as Chinese territory, comes as Australia’s recently elected Labor government has moved to repair its strained diplomatic relations with China.
Australia has clashed with China – its largest trading partner – overand the origins of the , amid a growing Chinese presence in the Pacific.
China’s embassy in Australia last year denounced former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott as “pitiful” after he decried Chinese pressure against Taiwan when he visited the island in a personal capacity.
Australia, like most countries, has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but has previously joined its ally the United States in expressing concern over Chinese pressure, especially military.