The trip will end in Thailand with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bangkok.
This is the first time these summits will be held in person since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing Albanese with an excellent opportunity to build a personal rapport with its leaders beyond more streamlined phone calls and Zoom meetings.
Albanese’s diplomatic speed-dating sessions will include his first meeting with new British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, as well as one-on-one meetings with the leaders of Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand. Another meeting with US President Joe Biden is likely.
Most anticipated of all is a possible meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the first of its kind since Malcolm Turnbull met Xi in 2017 and the near total collapse of bilateral relations between China and Australia nearly 20 years ago. three years.
In the latest sign that hostilities are beginning to thaw, the state-controlled newspaper China Daily said in an op-ed this week that “China values its relationship with Australia and regards Australia as an important partner for dialogue and cooperation.”
Albanese warned on Friday that a meeting with Xi was not “locked in”, but said he was eager for dialogue.
“We want to see stabilization in the relationship,” he told the ABC.
Xi will not attend the East Asia summit, sending Chinese Premier Li Keqiang instead, meaning an Albanian-Xi meeting would be held at either the G20 or APEC.
Asia Society Australia executive policy director Richard Maude warns that the Chinese are likely to keep Australia guessing until the last minute whether or not a meeting with Xi will take place.
Xi will meet Biden in Bali on Monday for their first face-to-face meeting since Biden’s inauguration.
The White House said the leaders of the world’s top superpowers “would discuss efforts to maintain and deepen the lines of communication between the United States and the PRC, responsibly manage competition, and work together where our interests collide.” align”.
Although he has come under fire for not attending the COP27 climate conference in Egypt, climate change will be a key part of Albanese’s agenda in Southeast Asia.
He wants countries in the region to know that Labor is taking a more ambitious approach to cutting emissions than the previous coalition government and sees tackling climate change as a fundamental issue of our time.