Foreign Minister Penny Wong has called on China to use its influence as a permanent member of the UN Security Council to get Russian President Vladimir Putin to halt his invasion of Ukraine.
“On Ukraine – China is a major power, China is a P5 [permanent five council] member, China has signed the UN Charter,” Wong said in a press briefing after a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
“We believe, like all countries except Russia, that Russia is in violation of the UN Charter through its illegal invasion of Ukraine. We call on China, as a P5 member with a special responsibility to uphold the UN Charter, to uphold the UN- the charter to use its influence in 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 way” to better relations after the breakdown in communication in the first two years of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think it’s a long road with many steps 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 $20 billion in trade sanctions was at the top of the agenda, she said.
“In terms of issues of differences, first and foremost is the issue of trade blockades,” Wong told a press briefing at the Australian consulate after the meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. “That was the question I focused on initially.”
The World Trade Organization is currently considering China’s decision in May 2020 to impose a steep 80 percent tariff on Australian barley, which is estimated to have cost local growers $500 million a year, as well as moves in August 2020 to block wine imports while investigating whether Australian wines had been sold at below market prices.