Australia says no change to rules regarding travellers from China

SYDNEY, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Australia is making no change to its rules around allowing travellers from China into the country, despite measures by some countries to require mandatory COVID-19 tests, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Thursday.

"We will take the appropriate advice from the health experts," Albanese told the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC).

"There is no change in the travel advice at this point in time but we are continuing to monitor the situation, as we continue to monitor the impact of COVID here in Australia as well as around the world."

Since China relaxed strict measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the country has experienced a surge of cases, overwhelming hospitals and prompting countries including the United States, India and Japan to impose restrictions on travellers from the mainland.

Australia and China recently resumed diplomatic dialogue after relations between the countries hit a low point following criticism by Australia of China's handling of COVID-19. In 2020, China imposed trade sanctions on several major Australian exports.

Travellers arrive at the international terminal at Sydney Airport, as countries react to the new coronavirus Omicron variant amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Sydney, Australia, November 30, 2021. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

This month, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong became the country's first government minister to visit China since 2019.

On Thursday, Australian Trade Minister Don Farrell said he was willing to visit China to talk through Beijing's bans on imports of Australian barley and wine, which are currently the subject of an Australian complaint to the World Trade Organization.

"When you have trade disputes that can't be resolved by discussion that's your only alternative," Farrell told the ABC.

"We would prefer to sit down and discuss the issues."

Albanese, asked on the Seven Network if he planned to visit China, said he had a "very positive" meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Indonesia in November, but "we'll wait and see in regards to a visit by myself".

"There are none planned at the moment," he added.

Reporting by Byron Kaye Editing by Chris Reese, David Gregorio and Lincoln Feast.

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