‘Things aren’t going back’: Australia braces for step-up in China’s Pacific push

The Australian government is bracing for China to step up its push to expand influence in the Pacific, with a senior figure privately conceding Canberra has a lot of work to do to regain lost trust and strengthen regional unity. Despite initial relief at a decision by Pacific island countries to defer a sweeping 10-country security and economic pact proposed by China, the Australian government now believes this may be only a temporary reprieve. “Things aren’t going back to the way they were,” said a senior Australian government figure who…

‘Considerable strain’: how Australian officials saw the China rift

Australian officials stayed in “regular contact” with the Chinese embassy in Canberra to “explain our decisions” even when Australian ministers were subjected to a two-year diplomatic freeze, newly released documents show. The former Morrison government had been “willing to engage with China in dialogue at any time”, according to Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade briefing notes, which also described the relationship as being under “considerable strain”. Australian government ministers were blocked from meetings or calls with their direct Chinese counterparts for more than two years, although lower-level diplomats and…

Albanese to meet Macron in Paris for ‘important reset’ of Australia’s relationship with France

Prime minister Anthony Albanese has confirmed he will visit France to meet President Emmanuel Macron, and is considering travelling to Ukraine, during next week’s trip to Europe for the Nato summit. Albanese said he was also looking forward to “having further dialogue” with the Chinese government, but admitted the relationship would remain “problematic” for some time, despite a recent end to the freeze on diplomatic relations. “Already there have been some improvements but it’s a long way to go,” the prime minister told the ABC’s 7.30 program. Albanese will on…

Thaw or cold war: will Labor succeed in unfreezing Australia-China relations?

After the end of a two-year diplomatic freeze between China and Australia, the new Albanese government is embarking on a grand experiment: is a different tone enough to get the relationship on a better footing? Gone are Peter Dutton’s blunt declarations that Beijing wants to turn countries like Australia into tributary states, as is the prediction Australia would almost certainly join any US-led military action to defend Taiwan against invasion. Anthony Albanese’s government has reverted to Australia’s long-standing bipartisan position against any unilateral changes to the status quo. At the…

Cabinet committee blocked plan to double Australia’s support to Pacific, election-eve leak reveals

The Morrison government has been hit by an election-eve leak that cabinet’s national security committee blocked a proposal by the foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, to double Australia’s support to the Pacific. Labor said the “extraordinary” pre-election leak, first reported by the Australian newspaper, showed the government was “falling apart”, while Scott Morrison insisted the committee was “extremely tight”. The revelation was expected to trigger renewed debate about the government’s Pacific policy in the wake of China signing a security deal with Solomon Islands. Guardian Australia has confirmed that the…

China seeks to reset relationship with Australia after election

China will seek talks with whichever party wins Saturday’s Australian federal election, with diplomatic sources declaring that they see “a good opportunity” to ease tensions in the period after the vote. A Chinese diplomatic source, who did not wish to be named, said China was “genuine in our wish to improve the relationship” with Australia, although to date it has not publicly detailed any specific actions it is willing to take. The source also pushed back at a description by the defence minister, Peter Dutton, that a Chinese intelligence gathering…

It’s unprecedented for Dutton to label a Chinese spy ship sailing outside Australia’s territory an ‘act of aggression’ | Daniel Hurst

The defence minister, Peter Dutton, has called the presence of a Chinese spy ship off the coast of Western Australia “an aggressive act” but his department was far more sober in its assessment and international law experts have poured cold water on the claim. It is not the first time such Chinese vessels have been in Australia’s exclusive economic zone. So, given we are a week out from an election and the Coalition wants the narrative refocused through a “we live in uncertain times” lens, let’s put the politics aside…

Chinese-speaking voters critical of Coalition’s ‘militaristic’ stance on China in lead-up to 2022 election, WeChat study shows

The Coalition’s muscular position toward China is not going down well with Chinese-speaking voters, while Labor is facing criticism over its more generous approach to humanitarian immigration, an analysis of WeChat audience comments reveals. The study of more than 3,000 political news stories and associated comments appearing on the Chinese social media platform, WeChat, has been undertaken by researchers at Monash and Deakin Universities over the past 11 months, including during the election campaign. It provides an insight into the Australian political news reaching Chinese speakers and how they are…

Kevin Rudd calls Peter Dutton an ‘idiot’ over China comments – video

Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd has attacked defence minister Peter Dutton, calling him an ‘idiot’ for believing hairy-chested commentary about China would improve Australia’s strategic circumstances. Rudd was speaking with former foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop at an event at the Australian National University to promote Rudd’s new book on China-US relations titled The Avoidable War ► Subscribe to Guardian Australia on YouTube The Guardian

Kevin Rudd attacks ‘idiot’ Peter Dutton over ‘hairy-chested’ comments on China

Kevin Rudd has launched a personal attack on Peter Dutton, labelling the defence minister an “idiot” for believing hairy-chested commentary about China would improve Australia’s strategic circumstances. The former Australian prime minister also took aim at Beijing, saying that if Chinese officials really wanted a reset in the relationship with Australia he “could not think of a dumber thing to do than what they just did in the Solomons”. Rudd was referring to the fallout from the signing of the security deal between China and Solomon Islands, in a wide-ranging…

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