Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Monday retraced a historic walk through Beijing’s Temple of Heaven, following in the footsteps of the first Australian leader to visit China five decades ago.
Albanese, who is the first Australian prime minister to visit China since 2016, hopes to mend relations between the two countries, which have been strained in recent years over issues such as trade, security, and human rights.
In 1973, then-Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam became the first Western leader to visit China after the Communist Party took power in 1949.
Whitlam’s visit was a landmark moment in Australia-China relations, and it helped to pave the way for the two countries to establish diplomatic relations in 1972.
On Monday, Albanese walked the same path that Whitlam took through the Temple of Heaven, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was built in the 15th century as a place for Chinese emperors to pray for good harvests.
Albanese’s walk through the Temple of Heaven is a symbolic gesture of his desire to improve relations between Australia and China. It is also a reminder of the long and complex history of ties between the two countries.
The visit comes at a time when relations between Australia and China are at their lowest point in decades. The two countries have been at odds over a range of issues, including trade, security, and human rights.
In recent years, China has imposed tariffs on Australian goods, such as wine and barley, in retaliation for Australia’s decision to ban Chinese telecoms company Huawei from building its 5G network in Australia.
China has also accused Australia of interfering in its internal affairs, and it has detained several Australian citizens on national security charges.
Albanese has said that he hopes to use his visit to China to reset relations between the two countries. He has said that he wants to have a “frank and honest” conversation with Chinese leaders about the issues that are dividing the two countries.
It remains to be seen whether Albanese’s visit will be successful in improving relations between Australia and China. However, his decision to retrace Whitlam’s historic walk is a sign that he is committed to trying to mend ties between the two countries.