Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will travel to Beijing on Saturday, a little over 50 years since his predecessor Gough Whitlam’s historic journey to China.

But while Albanese may be following in the steps of Whitlam, who forged ties with China in 1972, he was careful first to travel to the United States, Australia’s so-called “forever friend”.

Albanese confirmed the exact dates of his long-planned China visit – November 4 to 7 – just hours before he got on the plane to Washington, DC, and also announced some policy initiatives – including for Australian wine growers – indicating a potential thawing of Australia’s relationship with Beijing.

“Consistent, steady engagement with our international partners gets results for Australia,” the prime minister wrote on X last week.

At the White House, Albanese and his partner enjoyed a lavish state dinner, amid Canberra’s deepening security ties with the US, and initiatives such as the Quad and the AUKUS nuclear submarine deal that have caused upset in Beijing.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcome Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and his partner Jodie Haydon at the White House. They're wearing evening dress.
Biden hosted a lavish state dinner for Albanese and his partner at the White House [File: Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo]

Emma Shortis, a senior researcher in International and Security Affairs at the Australia Institute told Al Jazeera that Albanese’s government was “very clearly … doubling down on the US alliance” while also being “intent” on “stabilising the relationship with China and particularly the trade relationship.”

China is Australia’s largest trading partner.

“That’s an incredibly difficult line to walk and I think we’ll just need to wait and see how they handle it,” Shortis said.

Albanese’s China visit – the first by an Australian leader in seven years – comes after a bridge-building trip by Foreign Minister Penny Wong in December 2022.

One group that will be banking on his diplomatic skills will be Australian wine growers.

Matthew Rimmer, Professor of Intellectual Property and Innovation Law, at the Queensland University of Technology, noted that with the dispute over wine tariffs now suspended at the World Trade Organization, there was a chance of progress.

“Perhaps this dispute can be resolved altogether during the visit,” he told Al Jazeera.

China was once the biggest buyer of Australian wine and Beijing’s imposition of duties in 2020 has left vineyards with a massive oversupply.

But Rimmer notes, trade negotiations will not be clear-cut given the complexity of the two countries’ relationship.

Australian intelligence agencies have raised “concerns that China has been targeting the confidential information and trade secrets of Australian research institutions,” he said. “No doubt intellectual property and trade will be a touchy subject.”

‘Starting point’

Albanese came to power in 2022 amid hopes for a reset of Chinese relations, which under the conservative government of predecessor Scott Morrison had deteriorated over a range of issues from trade disputes, to COVID-19, accusations of political interference and spying, as well as human rights.

The return of Australian journalist Cheng Lei to Australia earlier this month after three years in Chinese detention has helped raise hopes for a potential thawing of the bilateral relationship.

Still, Kevin Yam, a Hong Kong lawyer and democracy activist now living in Australia, told Al Jazeera while Albanese’s visit could be a good “starting point”, it is also important for Albanese to “raise things and push for things that need to be pushed for”.

Yam is one of the eight Hong Kong exiles “wanted” by Hong Kong police after Beijing imposed a National Security Law in 2020 that Amnesty has said has “decimated” the territory’s freedoms.

He points out there are also two other Australians – democracy blogger Yang Hengjun and Hong Kong democracy activist Gordon Ng – whose cases “should be vigorously raised at any meetings with the Chinese authorities”.

On Wednesday, Albanese confirmed he would use his visit to raise the case of Yang, who has been detained in China since 2019.

Yam hopes the Australian leader will also raise the case of Ng, a democracy activist from Sydney “languishing in a Hong Kong jail for his role in the democracy movement in Hong Kong”.

Speaking in relation to Hong Kong specifically, Yam noted that 100,000 Australians are living in the Chinese territory, meaning that it was in “Australia’s national interest” for the “freedoms that Hong Kong has enjoyed” to return.

Meanwhile, Albanese also quietly raised the case of one other Australian journalist languishing in prison overseas – Julian Assange – during his visit to Washington, DC.

Shortis says this was probably due to increasing pressure from supporters of Assange, including a growing number of representatives in the Australian parliament who are vocally advocating for his freedom.

Assange is currently in prison in the United Kingdom pending extradition to the US where he is wanted on criminal charges over the release of confidential military records and diplomatic cables in 2010.

“People should be asking questions about why Assange isn’t being allowed to come home when we are supposedly the United States’ best friend in the world,” said Shortis.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong meets Australian journalist Cheng Lei on arrival at Melbourne Airport in Melbourne, October 11, 2023. AAP Image/Supplied by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE. AUSTRALIA OUT. NEW ZEALAND OUT
Cheng Lei, right, was held in China for three years before she was eventually released [File: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and AAP via Reuters]

It is a contrast to Australia’s relationship with Beijing where Yam notes there are “a lot of differences” between the two sides.

Still, despite also having his own personal differences with the China government, Yam sees the visit to China as a “good thing” as long as Albanese raises issues beyond “trade impediments” and “[holds] firm on our bottom lines”.

Albanese will arrive in China a few weeks after Xi hosted Russian President Putin and other world leaders for the Belt and Road (BRI) forum.

While China has been “industriously pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative,” Australia has, to date, been “reluctant to join”, said Rimmer.

The Australian state of Victoria, then under the leadership of another Labor government, had signed a preliminary agreement to join the initiative in 2018, but it was vetoed by Morrison’s government amid concerns about overseas deals that were said to be “inconsistent” with Australia’s foreign policy.

The decision came at a time when ties between Beijing and Canberra were at an all-time low.

But even as Australia seeks to mend fences, it is moving carefully.

Biden and Albanese share a toast at the state dinner in Washington, DC. They are wearing evening dress. The room is bathed in a blue light.
Albanese and Biden share a toast during last month’s state visit [File: Evan Vucci/AP Photo]

With China extending its influence in the Pacific, the Albanese government has been renewing ties with countries there.

As the BRI forum took place in Beijing, Canberra hosted Fiji’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, while Rabuka’s deputy went to China.

Australia also took the opportunity to announce a new pathway to permanent residency for citizens of Pacific Island countries and East Timor, also known as Timor-Leste, a policy that Pacific Island countries have long been calling for amid the climate crisis.

Whitlam’s visit to China was a notable first among Western leaders.

Decades on, Albanese is seeking not to make waves but to calm the sometimes choppy seas.

CBN Governor reveals that Tinubu is

Acting Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Folasodun Sonubi, has said that the apex bank will be rolling out different measures to stabilize the Naira. 


Speaking after a meeting with President Bola Tinubu at the state house today, August 14, Shonubi said the Nigerian leader is worried with the consistent fall of the Naira, hence the decision to curb the situation. 


He claimed that the fluctuations in the parallel market are majorly caused by speculative demand. 


Shonubi said; 

“Mr. President is very concerned about some of the goings on in the foreign exchange market. 

“One of the things we discussed is what could be done to stabilise and what could be done to improve the liquidity in the market and also the goings on in the various other markets, including the parallel market.

“He’s concerned about its impact on the average person, since, unfortunately, a lot of activities that we do, which are purely local, are still referenced to exchange rates in the parallel market.

“We have discussed and I have shared with him what we’re doing to improve supply. If you look at the official market, you will find that that market has been fairly stable and the spreads of the difference have not fluctuated as much.

“We do not believe that the changes going on in the parallel market are driven by pure economic demand and supply, but are touched by speculative demand from people.

“Some of the plans and strategies, which I am not at liberty to share with you, means sooner rather than later, the speculators should be careful because we believe the things we’re doing, when they come to fruition, may result in significant losses to them.

“But my presence here is more about the concerns the president has and his needs to know that we are doing something about it, assurances of which I have given him totally.

“We are doing things which will significantly impact the market in a few days time and we will all see it.

“The intention is to ensure the environment operates at a level that’s more efficient, but also that is also very reasonable and does not have a negative impact to the best that we can on the lives of the average person.”




Cause of death of Nigerian student Richard Okorogheye who was found dead in a Forest in the UK was

The cause of death of a Nigerian student who was found in Epping Forest in the UK after a missing person probe was ‘consistent with drowning’, an inquest has heard.


18-year-old Richard Okorogheye was found in a pond in the woodland on April 5, 2021, two weeks after he went missing from his home in Ladbroke Grove, west London.


Cause of death of Nigerian student Richard Okorogheye who was found dead in a Forest in the UK was


Mr. Okorogheye had sickle cell anaemia and left home on the evening of March 22 without his medication. His mother Evidence Joel contacted police the following day, but her son was not officially recorded as missing until 8 am on March 24.


Police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) subsequently launched an investigation and said the force should apologise to his family after officers provided an ‘unacceptable level of service’ to his mother.


It added it found the performance of three police officers and three call handlers fell below the standard expected, but their actions did not meet the threshold for disciplinary action.


The IOPC probe found that Mr Okorogheye should have been classed as a missing person earlier and he was defined as low risk for too long, while a call handler inaccurately recorded his medical condition as anaemia rather than sickle cell anaemia on the initial police report.


However, the evidence did not show that the delay in upgrading Mr Okorogheye’s risk level was due to his or Ms Joel’s race, it added.


Ms Joel also claimed a police officer made a racist comment but the watchdog said that, while it could be considered ‘unprofessional’, it could not conclude the remark was ‘influenced by any bias regarding Richard’s ethnicity’.


Cause of death of Nigerian student Richard Okorogheye who was found dead in a Forest in the UK was


Mr Okorogheye’s cause of death was given as ‘consistent with drowning’ by consultant forensic pathologist Dr Benjamin Swift during the first day of an inquest held at Essex Coroner’s Court in Chelmsford, on Monday.


Dr. Swift had been informed by Mr. Okorogheye’s family that he had been unable to swim and disliked water.


Area coroner Sean Horstead decided the inquest would not look into the wider circumstances surrounding Mr Okorogheye’s death, as his provisional view was that Mr Okorogheye had died by the time his mother first reported him missing to the police.


Cause of death of Nigerian student Richard Okorogheye who was found dead in a Forest in the UK was


Mr Okorogheye, who was a student at Oxford Brookes University, had been isolating during the coronavirus pandemic and left home only to go to hospital to receive blood transfusions for his sickle cell disorder.


Ms. Joel said her son did not resent having to shield during the pandemic, and asked by Mr Horstead if he had any poor history of mental health, she replied ‘no, never’.


Mr. Jefir Sharif, a forensic toxicologist, gave evidence at the inquest and said levels of alcohol and gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) were found in Mr. Okorogheye’s blood and urine during tests after his death.


But in a summary of Mr. Sharif’s report, the coroner said the forensic toxicologist was unable to rule out the possibility that some or all of the alcohol was produced naturally within Mr. Okorogheye’s body after death.


Cause of death of Nigerian student Richard Okorogheye who was found dead in a Forest in the UK was


Mr. Sharif also said the levels of GHB suggest they were produced by the body after death rather than ingested or administered.


Dr Swift said the post-mortem examination showed Mr Okorogheye’s lungs were ‘somewhat overexpanded’ and his spleen was enlarged which would be ‘consistent with a history of sickle cell disorder’.


Mr Swift added that there were no acute injuries identified externally or internally, no marks of an offensive or defensive nature.



14 hours ago
Vanderbilt Athletics

Photo: Vanderbilt Athletics

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Vanderbilt run-ruled Lipscomb 11-1 in eight innings Tuesday night at Hawkins Field.

The Commodores worked 10 walks and tallied nine hits, led by a three-hit night from Davis Diaz. Diaz, Jonathan Vastine and Alan Espinal each drove in a pair of runs.

Greysen Carter (W, 2-0) picked up his second win on the season with five strong innings. Carter allowed one run on two hits and struck out five. Bryce Cunningham got the start on the mound and struck out two of the three batters he faced. Ryan Ginther and Patrick Reilly each worked a scoreless inning.

The Commodores struck first with one run on two hits in the bottom of the first. Enrique Bradfield Jr. singled to lead things off and, after a walk and another single, scored on a fielder’s choice to give the Dores an early lead.

Alan Espinal made it 3-0 with one swing of the bat in the bottom of the fourth. Jonathan Vastine worked a walk and Espinal launched his fourth home run on the season over the wall in left.

Bradfield kept the inning going with a one-out walk. He stole second and took third on a throwing error. He then came home on a groundout by RJ Schreck.

Lipscomb got on the board with a pair of base knocks in the top of the sixth. Alex Vergara lined a one-out double and scored on a single to left by Trace Willhoite to trim Vandy’s lead to 4-1.

Vanderbilt answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning. Davis Diaz singled home a run and RJ Austin worked a bases-loaded walk to bring home another, extending Vanderbilt’s lead to 6-1.

The Dores ended the contest with a five-run eighth inning to run-rule the Bisons 11-1. Bradfield started the frame with a walk and Diaz followed with a single. Bradfield came home on a groundout by Schreck.

Jack Bulger then worked a walk and Austin was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Diaz would score on a wild pitch and Parker Noland followed with another walk to again load the bases. Vastine provided the big hit with a gapper to right-center, scoring a pair.

After Espinal drew Vandy’s fourth walk in the inning, JD Rogers ended the game with his first collegiate RBI. The pinch hitter lined a single into right field, scoring Noland.

Up Next

Vanderbilt returns to conference action this weekend with a three-game series against Georgia at Hawkins Field. All three games will air on SEC Network+.

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