SYDNEY: A group of Australian federal politicians will on Sunday (Dec 4) fly to Taiwan for a five-day visit aimed at conveying Australia’s wish to maintain peace in the Indo-Pacific, newspaper the Australian reported on Saturday.
The group, which includes governing Labor Party and opposition Liberal-National coalition MPs, is the first delegation of its type to visit Taiwan since 2019, The Australian report said.
It will include meetings with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, and has support from Taiwain’s foreign ministry.
The trip – reportedly kept secret to stop Chinese diplomats in Canberra lobbying for its cancellation – is said also to include meetings on security, trade, agriculture and indigenous affairs.
Australia’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation of the report.
The visit to democratic Taiwan, claimed by Beijing as Chinese territory, comes as Australia’s recently elected Labor government has moved to repair its strained diplomatic relations with China.
Australia has clashed with China – its largest trading partner – over trade disputes and the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, amid a growing Chinese presence in the Pacific.
However, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese last month met President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Group of Twenty (G20) summit in Indonesia, raising expectations of closer bilateral ties.
China’s embassy in Australia last year denounced former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott as “pitiful” after he decried Chinese pressure against Taiwan when he visited the island in a personal capacity.
Australia, like most countries, has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but has previously joined its ally the United States in expressing concern over Chinese pressure, especially military.