Penny Wong has met with her Chinese counterpart for the second time in three months, using the opportunity to call on Beijing to use its influence to talk Russia into ending its war on Ukraine.
On the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Senator Wong and Wang Yi were able to hold a “constructive” meeting.
China has maintained a more objective view on the ongoing illegal invasion of Ukraine than the United Nations wants. Just a day earlier, Mr Wang had met his Russian counterpart in which he “stressed” China would continue to hold that view.
Senator Wong said China, as a great power and a P5 member, had a duty to the UN Charter.
“We believe, as does every country in the UN with the exception of Russia, that Russia is in breach of the UN Charter with its illegal invasion of Ukraine,” Senator Wong said.
“We encourage China, as a P5 member with a special responsibility, to uphold the UN Charter and use its influence and end the war.”
In a readout following Mr Wang’s meeting with Russia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Sergey Lavrov, on Thursday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the pair had “exchanged views on the Ukrainian issue”.
“Wang Yi stressed that China will continue upholding an objective and just position to promote peace talks, and hopes that all parties refrain from giving up dialogue efforts and resolve security concerns through peace talks,” the statement said.
“Lavrov expounded on Russia’s position, stressing that security is indivisible and Russia is still willing to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation.”
Senator Wong has joined world leaders in condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat of using nuclear weapons to “protect its territorial sovereignty”.
“These comments are both unthinkable and irresponsible,” Senator Wong said.
“There should be a consistent position from the international community. This is a difficult time, a time of great change, a time where we need to be behaving in a way that is responsible, calm and considered.”
The last meeting between Senator Wong and Mr Wang was in July, but prior to that, there had been no high-level ministerial contact between foreign ministers since 2019.
Senator Wong said the pair had covered a “range of issues” in the meeting, which she described as “constructive”.
“Australian interests are constant, and the government will continue to speak on those issues, and continue to engage with China in order to stabilise the relationship that will require continued engagement,” she said.
“I think it is a long road, on which many steps will have to be taken by both parties to a more stable relationship.”