• Hannah Phillips

Repairing Relations with China

There appears to be a great deal of confusion about the state of Australia’s relations with China.

The Prime Minister claimed in a speech to the Australia China Business Council (ACBC) last week that the relationship is getting stronger and stronger.

The Chinese Ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye, has a different view.

One of Cheng Jingye’s criticisms related to Julie Bishop’s claims on Monday that China was trying to suborn Pacific states by driving them into penury by building infrastructure that was financed by unsustainable debt.

Ambassador Cheng rejected this assertion saying that it was absurd but the Foreign Minister’s comments reflect scepticism by some China watchers over China’s Belt Road Initiative.

Malcolm Turnbull takes the view that the relationship between Australia and China is granular and will therefore have difficulties from time to time but the underlying structure of the relationship is strong.

The opposition takes a more conciliatory line towards China.

In her speech Shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong said that it was possible to assert Australia’s national interest and safeguard our sovereignty in our bilateral relationship with China without being offensive or inflammatory.

She said that, if Labor won government next year, she would base policy with China on a clear set of principles.

John McDonnell

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