The Ministry of Commerce said that the Chinese international trade negotiator has expressed concern about Australia monitoring the activities of Chinese companies there, while emphasizing the potential for economic and trade cooperation.
Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shuwen made the remarks during a meeting with Australia’s Under-Secretary-General for Foreign Affairs and Trade in the Chinese capital on Monday, the ministry said in a press release.
The meeting comes on the heels of an apparent improvement in trade relations that saw China lift restrictions on Australian coal exports in early January, though trading partners continue to squabble over exports of wine, beef, barley, seafood and timber.
It also came a day before Canberra promised, citing security concerns, to unhook TikTok, a social media platform owned by Chinese company ByteDance, from all federal government-owned devices.
Wang urged Canberra to “provide a fair, open and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese enterprises” during the meeting.
His comments echo what Chinese foreign ministry officials have said about the US decision to subject the app to further scrutiny.
“The economic and trade relations between China and Australia are in an important stage of stabilization and improvement,” the ministry quoted Wang as saying, while calling for enhanced communication and coordination to help solve problems.
Australian and Chinese officials are due to meet this week at the World Trade Organization to discuss ways to normalize trade.
China’s Foreign Ministry said in a separate statement on Tuesday that Australian mining giant BHP CEO Mike Henry and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng met on March 27.
He hoped for a greater contribution from BHP to improve relations, especially in new areas such as climate change and new energy.