Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong has said she will press for the release of two Australian citizens held in China, as she prepared to embark on a landmark visit to Beijing

She is the first top Australian diplomat to visit the country in four years. Australian journalist Cheng Lei was detained in August 2020 and Chinese-born Australian Yang Jun in January 2019.

Canberra said on Tuesday that Wong would travel to Beijing to commemorate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations

She would meet with Wang Yi, the Chinese minister of foreign affairs, in a sign of warming relations between Australia and China.

The last official visit to Beijing by an Australian foreign minister was in 2018. Since then, relations between the two countries have plummeted.

Wong said before her departure on Tuesday that the issue of the two imprisoned Australians — journalist Cheng Lei and writer Yang Jun — would be addressed.

The release of Australian citizens would remove one obstacle to improving relations between the two countries, Wong said.