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Asia Minute: Australia’s new prime minister spends most of his first day overseas with Quad leaders

Narendra Modi, Anthony Albanese, Joe Biden, Fumio Kishida QUAD may 2022
Zhang Xiaoyu/AP
Xinhua News Agency Pool
Leaders of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) from left to right, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, U.S. President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, pose for photo at the entrance hall of the Prime Minister's Office of Japan in Tokyo, Japan, Tuesday, May 24, 2022. Leaders of the U.S., Japan, Australia and India gathered in Tokyo on Tuesday for a summit of the “Quad.” (Zhang Xiaoyu/Pool Photo via AP)

As part of his trip to Asia, President Joe Biden met with the world’s newest elected leader: the prime minister of Australia. The election was held over the weekend and the new government wasted no time in getting to work.

Anthony Albanese flew to Tokyo a little more than three hours after he was sworn in as Australia’s new prime minister.

He met with other leaders of the Quad — the United States, Japan and India.

It’s an informal group supporting a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” a not too subtle counterweight to Chinese regional influence.

The shift to Australia’s Labor Party is the first since 2013 — the same year Xi Jinping became president of China.

In the years since, Australia’s relationship with China has become politically challenging but remains economically significant.

In 2020, the Canberra government called for an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

China responded with a series of trade restrictions and tariffs on Australian products from wine to coal.

Still, China remains Australia’s biggest export market by far — and its largest source of imports.

For Australia’s domestic politics, exit polls show climate change as a more critical issue.

Albanese’s government has called for more aggressive cuts in greenhouse gas emissions than the previous government — other political allies want deeper cuts.

How this plays out will likely be the next focus for Australia’s parliament.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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