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PM admits diplomatic tension with China


Malcolm Turnbull admits there is tension in Australia’s relationship with China but a colleague insists an annual trade expo hasn’t been cancelled.

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The prime minister was responding to reports the country has been put in a deep chill with China, which is refusing visas to Australian ministers.

Repeatedly asked if that was the case, Turnbull said: “I wouldn’t say they’ve been declined.”

But he did admit there had been concerns aired in Chinese media about the Federal Government’s new foreign interference laws.

“There’s clearly been some tension in the relationship,” he told 3AW radio on Thursday.

“I’m very confident that any misunderstandings will be resolved.”

Turnbull insisted he is in regular contact with Chinese leaders and the relationship is “very deep and extensive”.

“But from time to time there are differences of perception,” he acknowledged.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten said he wants to see relations between Australia and China work constructively.

“In the past the relationship with China has had more turbulence than you might want to see, but China is a very important part of Australia’s future,” he said.

The Australian Financial Review reports the annual Australia Week in China expo was scheduled for May but that’s now not the case.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said the dates had not been settled.

“There will be further discussions about those,” he told ABC radio.

“I don’t think it is helpful to talk down the relationship with China, we certainly don’t. We have an outstanding relationship with China.”

He confirmed Trade Minister Steven Ciobo will be in China at the end of the year leading a trade delegation.

Last month, DFAT chief Frances Adamson conceded her plans to visit China had been deferred several times.

She denied there was a diplomatic freeze, but said there were some complex and difficult issues to overcome.


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