Albanese's Visit to China Serves as Propaganda for Xi Jinping as Beijing Seeks to Mend Ties with the West

Do you remember when Bob Hawke was brought to tears while reading the heartbreaking details of the diplomatic cable about the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing?

On that day, June 9, 1989, the honeymoon period in the early history of Australia-China relations came to an end.

Hawke canceled his planned visit to China and suspended military cooperation with Beijing indefinitely.

Human rights crisis also prompted the West to propose sanctions against Beijing.

It seems that back then, the world was just as baffled by China as it is today.

There was the China committed to political reforms and economic development, but there was also another China that was killing its citizens who had joined the pro-democracy movement.

For many years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, no Western leader wanted to visit Beijing.

Australians saw an official visit to China by Hawke's successor, Paul Keating, only four years later.

The more serious consequences of the massacre lasted for almost a decade and ended with a visit by then-US President Bill Clinton.

Tomorrow, Anthony Albanese will become the first Prime Minister of Australia to set foot on Chinese soil in almost seven years.

We can be sure of one thing: just like during Keating's visit to China 30 years ago, relations between the two countries are about to warm up after a six-year diplomatic freeze.

For Beijing, Albanese's visit is an excellent opportunity to change the situation and improve the image of Xi Jinping and China.

Why is this visit so important for Xi Jinping? Last year, on the sidelines of the G20 summit, Anthony Albanese met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, marking the beginning of a thaw in disagreements between Beijing and Canberra. (Xinhua/AFP: Yan Yan) The world has changed dramatically after a three-year COVID-19 pandemic.

Xi's decision to appoint himself as president for life once again underscored the fundamental differences between Chinese and Western values.

This is especially evident in concerns about human rights in Xinjiang and strict COVID-19 measures.

But Beijing wants to show the world that conflicts that have been simmering for years can be defused, and disagreements can be set aside, just as they were after 1989.

Albanese's visit will undoubtedly be part of China's domestic propaganda, especially after many years of trade disputes and a freeze in high-level dialogue.

Xi needs a win.

A man raises a toast with wine, and another man approaches him. Xi believes that Australia is crucial for China's economic and diplomatic goals, even if China does not openly acknowledge this. (Reuters: Jonathan Ernst) A massive economic downturn in China has led people of all classes to doubt Xi Jinping's ability to govern the country.

From capitalists to workers, many Chinese have lost hope in the economic prosperity of the country and political reforms in line with Xi's "zero-COVID" policy.

Xi calls China a "great power," but to demonstrate his strength to the public, he needs a middle power like Australia to knock on Beijing's door.

Albanese's visit as the leader of a developed Western country can create the impression that China and the West can work together.

This not only strengthens Xi Jinping's legitimacy but also potentially plays a crucial role in the puzzle as Xi continues to advance his global strategy.

Xi Jinping's Strategy Two men shaking hands on stage During his recent visit to Washington, the Prime Minister stated that Canberra fully understands the upcoming challenges and seeks to reduce tension in China-US relations. (Reuters: Jonathan Ernst) Just like Australia-China relations, Beijing's relations with Washington, London, and Ottawa have hit rock bottom in recent years.

Xi Jinping appears to be adopting a new approach to restoring his party's relations with the West.

In recent years, Beijing has intensified its defensive operations in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea, which has prompted many China watchers to closely monitor any military developments.

Darwin is Australia's closest port to the South China Sea, and a large contingent of US Marines is stationed there.

The release of Australian journalist Cheng Lei occurred shortly before the Albanese government allowed the Chinese company Landbridge to continue leasing the Darwin port.