Foreign Minister Penny Wong has urged China to use its clout as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council to prevail upon Russian President Vladimir Putin to halt his invasion of Ukraine.
“On Ukraine – China is a great power, China is a P5 [permanent five council] member, China has signed up to the UN charter,” Wong said in a press briefing after a meeting with her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
“We believe, as does every country with the exception of Russia, that Russia is in breach of the UN charter through its illegal invasion of Ukraine. We encourage China as a P5 member with a special responsibility to uphold the UN charter, that they uphold the UN charter to use its influence with the war.”
Wong said her second meeting with Wang, following their first face-to-face discussions at the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Bali in July, was “constructive” but the nations were still on a “long road” to better relations after the breakdown in communication during the first two years of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think it is a long road on which many steps will have to be taken by both parties to a more stable relationship,” Wong said.
Australia’s long-running dispute with China over its decision to impose trade sanctions worth $20 billion was top of the agenda, she said.
“In terms of issues of differences, first amongst them is the issue of trade blockages,” Wong told a press briefing at the Australian consulate after the meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. “That is the issue I focused on at the outset.”
The World Trade Organisation is currently considering China’s decision in May 2020 to impose a steep 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley, which is estimated to have cost local growers $500 million a year, as well as the move in August 2020 to block wine imports while investigating if Australian wines had been sold at below-market prices.