Australia “will not oppose China joining the CPTPP” – the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership – and will “consider China’s application on its merits”, one source said, emphasising that this is not a vow to advocate for China.
It would mark a step closer for China to join the trade bloc, which also includes Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Japan, though, is seen as a major obstacle, as any application to join the trade bloc must be approved by all members.
“[And Australia] will not advocate for Taiwan’s CPTPP membership, despite Japanese pressure to do so,” the source added.
Beijing regards Taiwan as a breakaway province that must be reunited with the mainland – by force if necessary – and has steadily ramped up military pressure on the self-ruled island while opposing official meetings between Taipei and countries that recognise China.
Both China and Australia have agreed to sidestep sensitive issues and to focus on trade – such as lifting sanctions on Australian wine and lobsters – when Albanese meets with Chinese authorities from November 4-7, according to sources from both countries.
A request to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for comment was not immediately returned.
Since Albanese took office in May 2022, both countries have taken steps to improve relations, with some concessions made.
The Albanese administration may also assess policies for Chinese investment in Australia but has “refused” to reconsider Huawei Technologies’ access to the nation’s 5G broadband network – a ban in place since 2018 – and there will be no concessions on national security issues.
The Australian leader had planned to visit China earlier in the year, but Beijing delayed it so as not to “reward Albanese/Australia for Aukus”, the source said.
Instead, China waited for the symbolic half-century anniversary of Whitlam’s meeting with former leader Mao Zedong.
And Albanese’s visit will also coincide with the China International Import Expo, which he plans to attend in Shanghai after meeting with Chinese leaders in Beijing.