Beijing, Nov 8 (AP/UNB) — The foreign ministers of China and Australia are meeting in Beijing on Thursday in a sign of a thaw in the recently frosty relationship between the key economic partners.
Wang Yi was to meet with his counterpart Marise Payne after months of tension over accusations of Chinese interference in Australian politics, media and academia.
In an earlier announcement, Payne said she looked forward to talks on "strategic, economic and people-to-people connections."
China took particular offense at a new law passed after allegations of Chinese meddling in Australian politics and media exposes about the Communist Party's dealings with Chinese university students and the expatriate Chinese community in Australia.
Australia has also banned Chinese telecommunications giants Huawei and ZTE Corp. from new telecommunications projects, and an Australian security think tank has raised concerns about increasing collaboration between Australian universities and China's People's Liberation Army scientists on research programs such as hypersonic missiles and navigation technology.
On Wednesday, the Australian government said it intends to block a Hong Kong and Chinese consortium's 13 billion Australian dollar ($9 billion) bid to take over an energy infrastructure company because it conflicts with Australia's national interest.
Earlier, China announced it will invest in redeveloping a Papua New Guinea naval base as concerns mount over increasing Chinese influence in the South Pacific.
China has denounced all accusations of interference as prejudiced "Cold War thinking" and alleges that Australia's longstanding military alliance with the U.S. is intended to contain China's growing influence. Australia and the U.S. have both challenged China's territorial claims in the South China Sea with flybys and naval sorties.