Economy and security issues as well as the South China Sea will be the focus of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s first official trip to China this week, despite calls for him to confront Beijing on its human rights record. Turnbull will touch down in Shanghai on Thursday morning to promote Australia’s business connections as part of the annual Australia Week in China conference. The Australian prime minister will then head to Beijing to attend a formal banquet and meet Chinese leaders including President Xi Jinping. Australia’s PM Malcolm Turnbull to lead biggest-ever business delegation to China It will be Turnbull’s first visit to China since he became prime minister in September 2015. “I think his clear primary objective is economic,” Australian National University strategic analyst Hugh White said. “Turnbull is one of those who remains very bullish about China’s economic prospects ... He still does think that China has big prospects and offers immense economic opportunities to Australia.” White said he expected Turnbull to raise the issue of the South China Sea during his visit to Beijing, despite pressure from pro-government Chinese groups in Australia. “Turnbull clearly feels it will be important for him, both in terms of domestic opinion in Australia and his reputation in Washington, to at least go through the motions of expressing Australia’s concern about China’s assertive policies,” he said. “The key problem is that he can talk about his concerns till he’s blue in the face, it won’t make any difference to what China does.” Human rights groups have, in a letter released days earlier, urged Turnbull to confront Beijing on its increasingly strict attitude towards dissent in China. Australia calls Beijing’s South China Sea moves ‘counterproductive’ “Turnbull should make clear that China’s worst crackdown on human rights in two decades doesn’t help the economic climate, and that Beijing’s threats to the rule of law are toxic for business,” Human Rights Watch Australia director Elaine Pearson said. Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison favourited a tweet on Wednesday that called on Turnbull to hold China to account on its human rights record, but later claimed his account had been hacked. But White said it was unlikely Turnbull would raise the issue. “[He’ll] be very reluctant to go beyond the most routine expression for human rights and I’d be very surprised if he gets into any real discussion of the tightening human rights situation in China,” he said.