Chinese Premier Li Keqiang relaxed on Saturday taking in an AFL game with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a day after opening the door for more Australian beef imports during his four-day visit Down Under.
A day after official commitments, Li, the first sitting premier to visit Australia in 11 years, watched Port Adelaide Power play against the Sydney Swans in the opening round of the 2017 Australian Football League season.
Turnbull, who is a fan of the Swans, sat with Li who wore the scarves of both teams at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
In a stunning upset, Power beat the Swans 17.8 (110) to 12.10.(82) and register their first win at the SCG in 11 years. It was also just their second victory over Sydney in their past 15 meetings.
Li met the players before the game, including Port Adelaide player Chen Shaoliang, the Australian Rules football club’s international academy recruit from China.
On Friday, China removed the last remaining restrictions on imports of Australian beef and announced plans to co-develop a major mine, rail and port project, in contrast to a growing global trend of trade protectionism.
The policies advance the trade relationship between the two countries at a time of rising tensions between Australia and its traditional ally, the United States.
“I believe it is time for China and Australia to enter into an era of free trade across the board, which means that we need to have free trade between our two countries in wider areas,” said Li in the Australian capital of Canberra on Friday.
Australia is one of several countries trying to salvage the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by encouraging China and other Asian countries to join the trade pact after US President Donald Trump abandoned the accord.
Li said China will now accept chilled beef exports from all licensed exporters. Previously sales were limited to just 11 authorized Australian sellers.
China is already Australia’s largest trading partner, with business propelled by a wide-ranging free trade agreement the two countries signed in 2015.
The expanded access gives Australia an opportunity to take advantage of China’s decision earlier this week to suspend meat imports from Brazil, the world’s biggest exporter of beef and poultry, due to a scandal over sales of rotten and salmonella-tainted meats.
“Australian exports play a major role supporting China’s growth,” Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Friday. “Our high-quality clean, green agricultural produce supports China’s food security.”
Turnbull and Li attended a ceremony on Friday where China State Construction Engineering Corp Ltd tentatively agreed to build a new port and rail line for a yet-to-be-approved iron ore mine in the state of Western Australia.
The memorandum of understanding is tied to a A$6 billion (US$4.6 billion) mine, rail and port project in Western Australia’s mineral-rich Pilbara region and includes privately-owned New Zealand firm BBI Group.