Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews will travel to China this afternoon for a four-day trade mission, his first visit since October 2019.
The visit would be the first development between Victoria and China since deals were inked as part of an infrastructure strategy, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This was scrapped by the Commonwealth in 2021 due to foreign veto laws.
Andrews said there would be a busy meeting schedule for the trip which would take him to Beijing, Jiangsu Province and Chengdu over the four days.
“It’s a quick visit, but a really important opportunity for us to impress upon all of our partners in China … that Melbourne is open, Victoria’s open, that the Chinese economy and Chinese community, business, our partners, are very, very important to us,” he said.
Andrews also dismissed his role in the repairing of Australia and China relations after the 368 billion dollar AUKUS submarine deal.
“I’m not here to be a commentator on the China-Australia relationship … nor am I here to talk about defence or strategic issues or foreign policy issues”.
“My job, the job I have always done, is to make sure that more Victorian companies can get access to the biggest market in the world”.
Liberal MP David Southwick criticised Andrews for not bringing any media with him, pointing at a lack of transparency as an issue.
“I think all Victorians would want to know who Daniel Andrews is meeting. What’s the intention of the trip? And what’s the benefit to Victorians?” he asked.
During the trip, Andrews will also be meeting with the Beijing government to discuss the return of Chinese students to Victoria. This comes after China banned online learning with foreign institutes in January this year.
“We think this will be very important for Victorian jobs and exports and to make sure we can maintain 42,000 students but grow that in years to come.”
The initial Belt and Road Initiative deals included a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed in 2018 and a framework agreement signed in 2019. The MOU and framework agreement were controversial because they were signed as part of the BRI which is a massive network of Chinese-funded infrastructure projects.
Photo: Daniel Andrews, Melbourne International Games Week 2015 by Swinburne University of Technology is available HERE and is used under a Creative Commons license. This image has not been modified.