What do Australian trade and tourism insiders make of Albanese’s visit to China?

Key Points An Australian lobster exporter says she believes that PM Albanese’s trip to China

Key Points
  • An Australian lobster exporter says she believes that PM Albanese’s trip to China was a ‘good and positive sign’ for people like her.
  • A tourism industry expert said it would take some time to woo Chinese tourists to Australia.
  • Mr Albanese described the meeting with President Xi as ‘very positive’ and ‘constructive’.
As the first Australian Prime Minister to visit China since 2016, Anthony Albanese’s four-day visit to China comes to an end today.
On Monday morning, Mr Albanese visited the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, a historical site that former Australian Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, set foot on 50 years ago as the first Australian leader to ever visit the People’s Republic of China.
Mr Albanese met China’s President Xi Jinping in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing that evening with a warm handshake, his first meeting with the President on Chinese soil.
Mr Albanese’s travel in China has received widespread attention, with a video of him going for a morning run on the Bund in Shanghai going viral on Chinese social media.

Many see this as a sign that Australia-China relations are moving in a positive direction.

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Former Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam visited Beijing’s Temple of Heaven in 1973 (L), and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese visited on November 6, 2023 (R). Credit: National Archives of Australia/AAP

Lobster exporter: ‘good and positive sign’

On the second day of Mr Albanese’s visit (5 November), he attended the China International Import Expo in Shanghai, calling on China to remove tariffs on Australian goods.
Yuki Huang, a seafood exporter from Oscar Tasmanian Seafood, is one of the approximately 250 Australian businesses showcased at this year’s Shanghai Expo.
She told SBS Chinese that she was very happy to meet the PM at the Expo, which she believes is a “good and positive sign” for businesspeople like her involved in international trade between Australia and China.
“Frozen lobsters from Australia are currently allowed to be exported to the Chinese market, but live ones are in the process of being negotiated,” Ms Huang said.

After trade in live lobster between Australia and China stalled in 2020, Australian lobster exports plummeted from $750 million in 2018/19 to $380 million in 2020/21.

We hope that the Australian PM’s visit to China will bring further positive developments not only in seafood (export), but also in wine, honey, beef and lamb.

Yuki Huang, Australian lobster exporter


Australian lobster exporter Yuki Huang (R) says she believes that PM Albanese’s trip to China is a ‘good and positive sign’ for Australia-China businesspeople like her. Credit: Yuki Huang

Ms Huang said the reintroduction of Australian live lobsters in the Chinese market was not only good news for Chinese consumers but also for lobster fishers in Australia.

“They’ve worked hard all their lives fishing, and they’re desperate to get their lobster or other seafood exports back to pre-outbreak levels,” she said.

But they also understand that it’s a process that takes time. And we have no idea when it’s going to happen.

Yuki Huang

China is Australia’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade reaching over $280 billion in 2021/22, according to .
However, it was at the height of the diplomatic dispute in 2020 that China imposed a $20 billion trade ban on Australia.

The sanctions have now been reduced to $2 billion and the Chinese government is conducting a five-month review of the $1.2 billion ban on Australian wine exports.

Tourism: bring Australian tourists to China

Beyond international trade, some expect the PM’s first trip to China in seven years to put Australia back on the map for Chinese tourists.
Jun Wen, a lecturer in Tourism and Service Marketing at Edith Cowan University, said he believed that this visit would ‘make good impacts’ on the Australian tourism industry by wooing more Chinese tourists to Australia.
But he also expected that it could bring more Australian visitors to China.

“If we want to develop the mutual promotion of the tourism industry between the two countries, it must be bilateral, unilateral development is not sustainable,” he said.

We hope they will also discuss how to welcome Australian tourists to China and let them better understand the local cultures.

Yun Wen, a lecturer in Tourism and Service Marketing at Edith Cowan University

Although Mr Wen is positive about the PM’s visit, he said the recovery of Australia’s tourism industry would be a long process and he did not expect to see a significant rise in the number of Chinese tourists within this year.
shows that the number of tourists in Australia from mainland China (379,000) by the end of August 2023 has only recovered to 26.5 per cent of its 2018/19 level (1.43 million).

ABS data suggests that fewer Chinese tourists have visited Australia in 2023 than in 2019. Source: AAP

The limited number of direct flights and Australia’s shrinking local tourism service industry are both obstacles to reviving Australia’s tourism industry, according to Mr Wen.

For example, direct flights from Perth to China have not yet resumed, and visitors from mainland China needed to spend extra costs to transit, which could change the travel plans of some tourists, Mr Wen added.
He said that Australian local tourism service providers also needed to rework their business plans and recruit new staff after the recessionary period before getting ready to welcome the influx of overseas visitors.

“There were many travel agencies (in Perth) focusing on the Chinese market, but some of them have not yet resumed their clientele after the pandemic,” he said.

Relations are on the ‘the right path’

Mr Albanese met with Mr Xi on Monday night in Beijing, the first time the two leaders have met since last year’s G20.

Mr Xi said Mr Albanese’s visit opened a new chapter in the 50-year history of Australia-China relations, which were on “the right path to improving and developing relations”.

Two men in suits smiling in front of Australian and Chinese flags

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese held talks with China’s President Xi Jinping. Source: AAP / Lukas Coch

At a press conference after the meeting, Mr Albanese described the conversation as “very positive” and “constructive”.

The meeting went for over an hour, which was longer than it was scheduled. And I think that reflects the very positive engagement that occurred.

Anthony Albanese

“I invited President Xi to Australia at a mutually beneficial time to be agreed on. He invited me back to China at a future time as well,” Mr Albanese told reporters in Beijing.
Earlier on Monday, when asked if he trusted the Chinese leader, Mr Albanese replied that Mr Xi always does what he said he would.

“He has never said anything to me that hasn’t been done,” he said. “But we deal with each other on face value.”