Prime minister receives red carpet welcome in China

Anthony Albanese has landed in China, becoming the first Australian prime minister to set foot in the country in seven years.

The prime minister arrived at Shanghai's Hongqiao Airport on Saturday evening, in a bid to stabilise the relationship with Beijing.

He disembarked his RAAF plane to a red carpet welcome and was greeted by China's top diplomat in Australia Xiao Qian, Australia's ambassador to China Graham Fletcher, and Shanghai's vice mayor Xie Dong.

Speaking from the tarmac, Mr Albanese said: "It's very good to be here, I look forward to the visit."

He was also given a bouquet of flowers by a young girl before leaving in a motorcade.

Anthony Albanese is greeted in Shanghai
The prime minister was presented with a bouquet of flowers after touching down in Shanghai.

The three-day visit for high level talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang come after the height of a diplomatic spat in 2020, which led to Beijing imposing $20 billion worth of trade bans on Australian exports.

Speaking ahead of his departure from Darwin on Saturday, the prime minister said the visit was due to the "patient, calibrated and deliberate approach" his government had taken.

"The fact that it's the first visit in seven years to our major trading partner is a very positive step and I look forward to constructive discussions and dialogue with President Xi and Premier Li during my visit to Shanghai and Beijing," he said.

Mr Albanese reaffirmed his pledge to raise the detention of Australian writer Yang Hengjun, who has spent more than four years behind bars over accusations of espionage.

The prime minister was invited to attend the opening banquet of the China International Import Expo on Saturday night, to be hosted by Premier Li.

Mr Albanese will attend the trade show on Sunday morning, where about 200 Australian businesses will be represented.

He will fly to Beijing that night, ahead of a meeting with President Xi on Monday evening AEDT, in the Great Hall of the People.

The next day he will return to China's seat of power for an official welcome hosted by Premier Li, followed by a working lunch.

Graham Fletcher and Anthony Albanese
Australia's ambassador to China Graham Fletcher greeted Mr Albanese on the tarmac.

The trip comes on the 50th anniversary of Gough Whitlam's landmark visit in 1973 - the first by an Australian prime minister to China.

Beijing has lifted most of its punitive tariffs off Australian products, with only $2 billion worth remaining.

China is reviewing its ban on Australian wine, worth $1.2 billion, and is expected to remove the sanctions at the end of a five-month process.

The remaining sanctions apply to rock lobster and some abattoirs.

China's state media hailed the prime minister's trip as heralding a new starting point for bilateral relations between the two nations.

But the government is under no illusion the relationship will return to what it was before the tensions emerged.

Dr Yang's family pleaded with Mr Albanese in the days leading up to his visit, to make it clear to Beijing the relationship with Canberra could not be stabilised until the Australian was released from prison.

The prime minister pledged to raise difficult issues, including consular cases, trade and the South China Sea during his visit.

China released Australian journalist Cheng Lei from detention, after she spent more than three years behind bars, ahead of Mr Albanese's visit.