China’s Premier Li Qiang has been greeted by hundreds of supporters and some vocal protesters as he arrived in Canberra ahead of high levels talks with Anthony Albanese.

The premier landed in Canberra after a high-profile announcement at Adelaide Zoo, where he confirmed that China would lend two new giant pandas to replace the much loved pair Wang Wang and Fu Ni.

Mr Li – who is notionally the second most powerful leader in China behind President Xi Jinping – declared on arrival that the relationship with Australia was now “back on track after a series of twists and turns.”

Australia has deployed much more cautious language about the relationship, and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has vowed to raise difficult issues with Mr Li during the visit, including the suspended death sentence handed to jailed Chinese-Australian academic Yang Hengjun and tense encounters between China’s People’s Liberation Army and the Australian Defence Force.

The Coalition has also been pressing on the government to raise China’s persistent cyber attacks on Australia and its campaigns targeting Chinese government critics in Australia.

Pro-China supporters and anti-China protesters wave flags and banners. (ABC)

Mr Li has been shadowed in both Adelaide and on his arrival in Canberra by hundreds of supporters as well as protesters furious at the Chinese government’s crackdowns against religious minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang, as well as political repression in Hong Kong.

In Adelaide, some protesters displayed signs warning against Australia letting China use pandas for “propaganda” while it engaged in widespread repression.

One Uyghur protester in Adelaide told the ABC that she was born in China but was not able to return safely. She declined to give her name, saying that could endanger people in her community in China.

“Ever since 1949 there has been a genocide happening against Uyghurs – the Chinese government is trying to brainwash us to make us forget about our culture and religion,” she said.

“There is blood on the Chinese government’s hands.”

Foreign Minister Penny Wong shakes hands with China’s Premier Li Qiang at Adelaide Zoo.(AAP Image: Asanka Ratnayake)

After visiting Adelaide Zoo, Mr Li had lunch with Adelaide winemakers in an event designed to highlight the return of Australian wine to China after Beijing’s move to unwind heavy tariffs earlier this year.

Trade Minister Don Farrell said the Albanese government hadn’t compromised.

“We’ve managed to get all these things without kowtowing to the Chinese government,” he said on Sky News.

“What we have done … is to stabilise the relationship with our largest trading partner, and that has resulted in, as I said, almost $20 billion of resumed trade with the Chinese government.”

Senator Farrell also indicated the last remaining trade barrier – an informal ban on live Australian rock lobsters – would soon be removed.

“I’m not expecting an announcement today, but I think the progression and the way in which these discussions have gone over the last two years leads me to be very confident that in the near future we will remove all of the remaining trading impediments between our two countries,” he said.

Mr Li will meet Mr Albanese in Canberra tomorrow before heading to Perth on Tuesday to meet business leaders and visit resources projects in the west.

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