Chinese premier Li Keqiang extends Prime Minister Scott Morrison olive branch during bilateral meeting in Thailand

“We are ready to work with Australia to fully unlock the potential of our relations and expand our business ties and people-to-people exchange.


“This is to the benefit of both sides. We hope our relations will move in the direction of steady and sound growth.”

Sino-Australian relations have been under significant stress for many months.

Beijing’s human rights abuses, attempts at foreign interference, and detention of Chinese-Australian writer Yang Hengjun have each proven flash points.

Even still, Mr Morrison insists Australia’s “greatly appreciates” its relationship with China, it’s number one trading partner.

“This is an opportunity, among others, to talk about that relationship,” he told Mr Li.

“Like you, I feel very strongly and am committed to improving that relationship and ensuring we realise its full potential.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is greeted upon his arrival in Bangkok. Credit:AAP

On Monday, the Prime Minister will shift his focus from Chinese tensions to free trade.

He is determined to push negotiations forward on a potential EU-style Asian trade pact, which could become the biggest of its kind in the world.

The deal, once finalised, is set to include all 10 ASEAN nations as well as China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

The trading bloc would encompass 30 per cent of global gross domestic product and nearly half the world’s population.

Against a backdrop of tensions between the United States and China, leaders are increasingly restless to have the deal locked in.

However, it is extremely unlikely the deal will be sealed on Monday, with India’s resistance to removing agricultural tariffs proving a sticking point.


Australia has repeatedly urged the US to play a greater role in the region, but the US has downgraded its attendance at East Asia Summit, with Donald Trump declining to travel and sending his assistant national security advisor Robert O’Brien instead.

On the sidelines of the summit on Monday, Mr Morrison will address Australian and Thai business figures at a breakfast event.

Thailand is Australia’s 10th largest trading partner, importing roughly $4.8 billion worth of goods each year.

The Prime Minister will also pay his respects to Australians captured by Japan during World War II.

Mr Morrison will rededicate a memorial to the Burma-Thailand Railway and Hellfire Pass, with time capsules being resealed and moved to the Australian embassy in Bangkok.


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