Interview with Kieran Gilbert - Sky News

  • Transcript, E&OE
22 May 2018

KIERAN GILBERT: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, thanks very much for your time. Youhave had talks with your counterpart Wang Yi, and they lasted more than an hourI believe, and he's invited you to visit Beijing. When will you be doing that?

JULIE BISHOP: Good morning Kieran. It is about 7 o'clockhere on Monday evening. I did meet Wang Yi on Sunday evening when I firstarrived here in Buenos Aires, and then we spoke during the course of the G20Foreign Ministers' Meeting. At the end of the meeting we held a very warm andcandid and, yes, lengthy discussion. A meeting to canvass the full range ofissues and interests between Australia and China, both bilaterally andregionally and globally. Foreign Minister Wang Yi said he was looking forwardto hosting me in Beijing for our annual Foreign Ministers' Meeting. This yearit will be held in Beijing. I certainly accepted his offer to visit and Iexpect to be there very soon. We had a positive discussion about matters ofinterest including how to enhance our relationship under the ComprehensiveStrategic Partnership, and indeed discussed areas of new levels of cooperationwhere we can do more things together. So, we will continue to approach thisbilateral relationship with goodwill, and realism, and pragmatism, and withopen and frank communication. I have known Foreign Minister Wang Yi for a longtime now. I think this is our twelfth formal bilateral meeting but we'veobviously seen each other on many other more informal occasions. It was areally good and positive meeting.

KIERAN GILBERT: Did you raise the criticism of those H-6K Bombers being deployedto the South China Sea? I know your counterpart Marise Payne has been critical.Did you express your concern to him?

JULIE BISHOP: Yes,I raised the issue of South China Sea and the militarisation. This has been afeature of our discussions for some time now. We've raised Australia's concernsabout militarisation in the South China Sea as part of our enduring broad dialoguewith China. China was certainly not surprised by our concerns and I raised itagain with Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

KIERAN GILBERT: Didyou discuss the broad relationship, in the sense that there has been adiplomatic freeze between the two nations? Most analysists would suggest thatthat emerged out of the laws on foreign interference. Was there any discussionon the broad bilateral ties?

JULIE BISHOP: First, there certainly has been no diplomaticfreeze as I have said on numerous occasions. There has been no freeze. That wasconfirmed by my meeting today – my very long and positive meeting today withForeign Minister Wang Yi. Look, I'll always stand up for Australia's interestsand I won't always see eye-to-eye with every policy of every country, but it ishow we manage these differences. Australia has our own values and our interestsand our own policies, and we can disagree with friends and partners from timeto time - it is the same for other countries close to Australia – but we areable to resolve our areas of difference. We had a very frank and candiddiscussion about maintaining open and clear lines of communication, and we bothresolved to continue to work closely together to ensure that theAustralia-China relationship focuses on the positive aspects of ourrelationship, and there isn't this disproportionate focus on areas ofdifference. We have differences of opinion with a number of countries. You wouldexpect that. Australia is an independent sovereign nation. We have our owninterests, our own values and we'll always stand up for them, but it was a verypositive discussion about a whole range of issues, and I was very pleased withit.

KIERAN GILBERT: You've also pushed back against Beijing's attempts to shake-up theUN Human Rights Council and basically suggesting that their ideas lackedaccountability and transparency. Is this something that you canvassed? I knowhuman rights have been something that has been a long standing issue, or thatis raised regularly between the two countries, but did you discuss thisspecifically in your talks with Wang Yi?

JULIE BISHOP: Notspecifically. That was a matter that was raised at the Human Rights Councillast March. That's some time ago. We have a different approach to reforming theHuman Rights Council. Australia put forward our views as to how we think itshould occur and China has a different view, but again, we respectfullydisagree on some matters, but we work so constructively in many other areas.This was a matter that was dealt with at officials level within the HumanRights Council a couple of months ago.

KIERAN GILBERT: Yousay there hasn't been a freeze, but what about the Chinese move to slow downour wine imports, for example? Treasury Wines, one of our largest exporters ofwine, worth hundreds of millions of dollars in terms of export dollars. What isyour reaction to that? Is this just something that happens within a normaltrading relationship? Most have looked at this and say this is China pushingback.

JULIE BISHOP: Ithink we have to keep things in perspective. Delays in customs processing likethis happen from time to time in markets all over the world, and they need tobe worked through individually. Australia and China are longstanding andreliable economic partners. We have very highly complementary economies. Chinais our largest trading partner and the economic relationship has drivenunprecedented prosperity in both of our countries. We have got a Free TradeAgreement. The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement has provided the foundationfor dynamic economic growth for some time. So, I think the strength of ourtwo-way trading relationship will continue to underpin our overallrelationship. It is a very valid point that the strength of our two-way tradingrelationship derives from the fact that we have quality goods, it is value formoney, and China wants to buy our high quality goods. I know Minister Ciobo hasbeen in Shanghai. He's been meeting with Chinese officials and discussing theparticular issue of wine imports into China, and I know that Australianofficials in China are investigating the issue with Chinese authorities, as wewould if it occurred elsewhere in the world. These matters occur in countriesother than China, so we shouldn't try to magnify disproportionately issues thatoccur in the China-Australia relationship.

KIERAN GILBERT: Iknow you've got to go – just a quick one to wrap up. In relation to the PrimeMinister's scheduled talks with Xi Jinping, did you canvass a timeframe forthat? Will that happen within the next few months in Beijing?

JULIE BISHOP: Icertainly didn't specifically raise dates. That is a matter for the PrimeMinister's Office to do. I don't manage the Prime Minister's diary, but I haveno doubt that the Prime Minister will be visiting Beijing at some time thisyear depending upon the schedules of leaders in both countries, but I was verypleased that we were discussing a time for my visit which will be soon, andAustralian officials will also be visiting China very soon. I am sure that wewill be seeing some significant meetings between senior Australian officialsand Chinese officials very shortly.

KIERAN GILBERT: ForeignMinister Julie Bishop live from Buenos Aires. Thanks for that – appreciate it.

JULIE BISHOP: Mypleasure. Thanks Kieran.

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