Prime Minister Tony Abbott will stress how urgently he wants to see free-trade talks with China resolved when he meets its premier Li Keqiang.
Mr Abbott will be formally welcomed to China in a ceremony on the southern resort island of Hainan on Wednesday evening.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will join him later for a bilateral meeting with Premier Li, where it’s expected free trade will feature heavily in the talks.
But the prime minister will also thank China for assisting the Australian-led search for the missing Malaysia Airways plane MH370.
Most of the 239 passengers were Chinese, and Australia’s efforts to track down the doomed flight have been warmly received.
Mr Abbott phoned Premier Li last week as a courtesy before departing for his North Asia trip, but the two leaders ended up speaking for almost an hour.
Ms Bishop will be hoping for a more convivial exchange with China’s foreign minister Wang Yi, after their previous frosty meeting in Beijing.
She was publicly upbraided by her counterpart for condemning China’s imposition of an air-defence zone over territory also claimed by Japan.
Ms Bishop will also attend the Boao Forum in Hainan on Thursday, where Mr Abbott will deliver a speech to delegates and world leaders.
Mr Abbott is optimistic he can resolve free-trade talks with China and fulfil his election promise to sign deals with Japan, South Korea and China within a year.
A sticking point in the talks is China’s concerns about foreign investment rules, but Mr Abbott will use his three-day visit to stress that Australia is open for business.
He wrapped-up his visit to Seoul with a symbolic visit to the demilitarised zone that’s divided the Korean Peninsula for 60 years.
Mr Abbott paid homage to the 17,000 diggers who served in the Korean War, and thanked those helping keep the peace in the peninsula.
The prime minister ramped up the rhetoric against North Korea during his visit to Seoul, personally assuring President Park Geun-hye that Australia stands by its friend in the region.
It’s unlikely his DMZ visit will be raised with the Chinese, given they are North Korea’s main ally and supplier of food, energy and weapons.
The centrepiece of his China visit will be a keynote address at the first “Australia Week in China” trade expo in Shanghai on Friday.
All of Australia’s state premiers and chief ministers and hundreds of Australian business representatives will also attend.