Richard Marles has backed Prime Minister Anthony Albanese using a rare meeting with President Xi Jinping to bring up the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
The pair held formal bilateral talks on the sidelines of the G20 in Bali, which were the first of its kind since then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull met with Mr Xi in 2016.
Following the meeting, Mr Albanese confirmed he asked China to “use its influence” on Russia.
“I pointed out that the war in Ukraine was having an impact on the global economy and directly having an impact on Australian energy prices and inflation,” he told reporters.
Mr Marles, the Acting Prime Minister, said it was right for Mr Albanese to use that opportunity given the close relationship between Moscow and Beijing.
“I think there is obviously a relationship that has been growing between China and Russia,” he told Englishheadline Australia.
“So it’s right we use an opportunity such as a meeting between the Prime Minister and the President to urge President Xi in that way.
“Fundamentally though we need to see Russia end this aggression. It is unprovoked, it is a large country seeking to impose itself on a smaller neighbour.”
Messrs Xi and Albanese, who had not met before Tuesday’s conversation, both emphasised the importance of the Australia-China relationship in their remarks after.
The 32-minute meeting was said to span bilateral, trade and human rights issues, in addition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
China and Australia have had a fractured relationship for the past six years, after a ban on Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei in Australia’s 5G network drew the ire of the country’s leaders.
The former Morrison government was also vocal on the international stage about the need for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19.
China slapped punitive trade restrictions on Australia in response, suspending several Australian export products to the nation in November 2020.
The trade sanctions are still ongoing, and Mr Albanese ruled out any possibility of an early easing, saying it “wasn’t that sort of process”.
“You shouldn’t expect…that you have a meeting like that, and we put forward a position and they come up with a conclusion,” Mr Albanese said in a press conference on Tuesday.
Mr Albanese will depart Bali on Thursday to attend the APEC Summit in Bangkok, Thailand.