Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has raised concerns over the South China Sea with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a lengthy meeting in Beijing.
While the contents of their conversation on the matter remain private both parties described the substantive discussion as open and honest, agreeing either side had candidly explained their position on the territorial dispute.
The formal meeting on Friday night was originally scheduled for half an hour but ran 30 minutes over time, delaying Mr Turnbull’s flight back to Australia by 45 minutes.
The pair were then joined by Mr Turnbull’s wife Lucy and President Xi’s wife soprano Peng Liyuan for a banquet.
The talks ranged from economics and strategic issues to AFL and opera, with the president noting the success of Tasmanian exports to China.
Mr Turnbull also raised the South China Sea issue with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during their meeting on Thursday night.
Australia’s clear position was that all claimants should settle the disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law, he said.
“The remarkable economic gains in this region, by every country including our own and of course China, has been based on the foundation of peace and stability,” he said.
“Anything which has the potential of disturbing that peace and stability works against the interests of all nations.”
It comes as the US announced it will send troops and combat aircraft to the Philippines for regular, more frequent rotations, and will conduct more joint sea and air patrols with Philippine forces in the South China Sea.
The move is set to inflame tensions with China, with the increased US military presence and activities in the region likely to be viewed as a threat.
The South China Sea is an important trade passage, rich in fishing stocks and believed to be home to extensive oil and gas deposits.
It has been the subject of overlapping claims from several Asian nations as well as complaints about China’s building of artificial islands in the area.
Mr Turnbull has previously described China’s actions in the disputed waters as “counterproductive”.