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Penny Wong hits back at insult from top China official just days after she married the love of her life

Penny Wong has issued some cautionary advice to China’s top foreign affairs official, in a move likely to further infuriate former Labor hero Paul Keating.

Australia’s foreign minister – hailed as the country’s most popular politician – drew Mr Keating’s ire over her handling of Australia’s relationship with China.

Mr Keating has repeatedly criticized Anthony Albanese’s government’s approach to China, claiming Foreign Secretary Wong had been co-opted into taking a “foolish pro-American stance”.

She met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday, but the official has also sought a meeting with Mr Keating, which will take place on Thursday.

‘Mr Keating is entitled to his opinion. He does not speak for the government or the country,” Senator Wong said in a statement to The Australian.

At the opening of the Australia-China Foreign and Strategic Dialogue, Ms Wong reiterated her pledge to confront Chinese leaders on key issues.

She said she “looks forward to speaking candidly about Australians detained in China, human rights, maritime security and regional and international issues.”

Penny Wong has issued a cautionary note to China’s top foreign affairs official, in a move likely to further anger former Labor hero Paul Keating.

She met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday, but the official has also sought a meeting with Mr Keating, which will take place on Thursday.

She met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday, but the official has also sought a meeting with Mr Keating, which will take place on Thursday.

Ms Wong referred in particular to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the troubles in the Pacific and the conflict in the Middle East.

“I have emphasized that it is in all our interests to commit to preventive architecture to reduce the risk of conflict, and that communication should never be withheld as a punishment or offered as a reward,” she said.

‘Dialogue allows us to manage our differences; we both know it doesn’t eliminate them. Australia will always be Australia and China will always be China.”

Ms Wong spoke about China’s “unsafe behavior” in the South China Sea and urged the country to adhere to international law.

Her input on the subject in the past has angered Mr Keating, who has emerged as an outspoken supporter of China and critic of the AUKUS deal.

Speaking at the ASEAN Summit, Ms Wong said: “We are facing destabilizing, provocative and coercive actions, including unsafe behavior at sea and in the air and militarization of contested features.

“We know that military power is expanding, but measures to limit military conflict are not – and there are few concrete mechanisms to avert this.”

Ms Wong spoke about China's

Ms Wong spoke about China’s “unsafe conduct” in the South China Sea and urged the nation to adhere to international law

Ms Wong referred in particular to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the problems in the Pacific and the conflict in the Middle East

Ms Wong referred in particular to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the problems in the Pacific and the conflict in the Middle East

Just a day later, Mr Keating reflected on her comments – which were widely praised – and claimed that ‘it wouldn’t take much to encourage Penny Wong, with her ‘deeply concerned’ frown, to rattle the Chinese tin can.’

Speaking to Sky on Tuesday morning, Opposition spokesman for foreign affairs Simon Birmingham asked questions about the optics of that meeting.

‘Look what Paul Keating had to say about Penny Wong and the Albanian government. And he has been very critical of them,” Mr. Birmingham noted.

1710908276 203 Penny Wong hits back at insult from top China official

Foreign Minister Penny Wong was criticized by Paul Keating

The former Labor hero was outspoken in his disappointment with the current Labor government, prompting rebukes from the country's most senior elected officials.

The former Labor hero was outspoken in his disappointment with the current Labor government, prompting rebukes from the country’s most senior elected officials.

He said that while the opposition “welcomes Wang Yi’s visit” and can recognize its importance, he considers the meeting with Mr Keating “pointed”.

“It is quite pointed and somewhat insulting to Penny Wong that the Chinese Embassy has sought this meeting with such an outspoken critic of Penny Wong.”

Mr Wang is the most senior Chinese official to visit Australia in seven years, in a sign that tensions between the two countries are thawing after contact was lost during Covid-19.

He met with Ms Wong in Canberra on Wednesday, where they jointly held the China-Australia Foreign and Strategic Dialogue.

Ms Wong then gave a solo press conference, despite inviting Mr Wang to join her.

The meeting was followed by a planned sit-down with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

The Australian newspaper reported on Monday that Keating will hold an “unofficial” meeting with Wang, likely in Sydney on Thursday.

Mr Keating has been highly critical of the Federal Government’s AUKUS nuclear submarine deal and has taken personal aim at Ms Wong.

These comments prompted a swift response from Mr Albanese, who considers Ms Wong one of his closest confidantes.

‘Penny Wong is someone who gives Australia a lot of respect. “She is someone who is diligent, she is someone who is committed, she is someone who ticks all the boxes,” he said.

‘Paul is responsible for what he says, he knows that. But as far as Penny Wong is concerned, I think he is clearly wrong.”

Mr Albanese attended Ms Wong’s wedding to her long-time partner Sophie Allouache at the Bird in Hand Winery in the Adelaide Hills on Saturday.

Mr Wang is the most senior Chinese official to visit Australia in seven years, in a sign that tensions between the two countries are thawing after contact was lost during Covid-19.

Mr Wang is the most senior Chinese official to visit Australia in seven years, in a sign that tensions between the two countries are thawing after contact was lost during Covid-19.

Simon Birmingham said Wang's meeting with Keating was an

Simon Birmingham said Wang’s meeting with Keating was an “insult to Penny Wong.”