Australian sends first coal shipment to China in over two years
The shipment was reportedly outside Zhanjiang harbor this morning.
The first Australian coal cargo bound for China in over two years is on its way to the country on Thursday, as tensions between the two Pacific giants ease, as per shipping records and media sources.
Beijing and Canberra were once close economic partners, but in recent years they have clashed over matters such as AUKUS and the origins of the Covid-19 epidemic.
Much of the debate in Australia about AUKUS has centered on the strategic reason for the Royal Australian Navy obtaining eight nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs) and the expected timescale for delivery.
These political tensions have spilled over into the economic sphere, with China quietly penalizing a variety of Australian exports, notably coal, and placing a freeze on high-level interactions in 2020.
However, relations have improved since Prime Minister Anthony Albanese assumed office last year, with Foreign Minister Penny Wong visiting Beijing for the first time in four years in December.
The Magic Eclipse, according to maritime data provider MarineTraffic, was anchored off the coast of the southern Chinese city of Zhanjiang on Thursday, after departing last month from Hay Point in Australia's Queensland.
According to Bloomberg News, the bulk carrier is laden with coking coal for the Chinese market, which is largely used in steelmaking.
The coal will be sent to a local production facility owned by Baosteel, the world's largest steel maker, according to China's state-run Global Times newspaper.
Beijing characterized Wong's December meeting with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi as an opportunity to "revitalize" China-Australia relations.
And last week, Canberra's Trade Minister Don Farrell said he spoke by video link to Chinese Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao, stating the two discussed the eventual "full resumption of trade."
Farrell said the meeting constituted a "significant milestone in the stabilization of Australia's relations with China."
Chinese Australian relations have been in a downward spiral for several years due to UK's more aggressive policy toward Beijing, most notably on China's internal matters in Hong Kong and Taiwan.