MELBOURNE (Reuters) - China’s ambassador told Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that their countries should fight protectionism together during a meeting a week after two Chinese firms were blocked from buying a stake in Australia’s biggest power grid, broadcaster ABC reported on Thursday.
Ambassador Cheng Jingye met Turnbull on Monday, ahead of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou in early September, according to a notice on the embassy’s website posted on Thursday.
“It is our hope that both sides would work together to stand for trade and investment facilitation and liberalization and against protectionism of all manifestations,” Cheng said in a speech at the Chinese embassy, the ABC reported.
The Chinese envoy said he hoped that the two countries could build on momentum generated by last year’s Free Trade Agreement, while acknowledging that both countries do hold some political differences, according to the report.
“It is natural that the two countries may disagree on some issues,” he said, according to the ABC.
Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison last week officially rejected bids by two Chinese companies in the A$10-billion ($7.67-billion) sale of Ausgrid, after they failed to overcome security concerns.
The decision has caused a rift between Australia and its biggest trading partner. China has accused Australia of bowing to protectionist sentiment in blocking the bid for Ausgrid, as well as an earlier one by a China-led consortium to buy cattle company Kidman & Co.
Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore