‘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…

After the freeze: can Australia and China rekindle relations?

Australia and China’s defence ministers have met in person for the first time since China froze its communications with high-level Australian politicians in early 2020. Foreign affairs and defence correspondent Daniel Hurst speaks with Jane Lee about the key tensions that remain unresolved between the two countries now that the freeze is over. How to listen to podcasts: everything you need to know The Guardian

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…

Solomon Islands-China pact is worst policy failure in Pacific since 1945, Labor says

Labor has lashed the Coalition in the wake of the newly signed security agreement between China and Solomon Islands, branding it “the worst Australian foreign policy blunder in the Pacific” in decades. The Coalition government sounded the alarm over the deal, arguing the pact has been negotiated in secret and could “undermine stability in our region”. The foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, and the minister for the Pacific, Zed Seselja, said they were “deeply disappointed” by the deal, and would “seek further clarity on the terms of the agreement, and…

Penny Wong says better relationship with China possible if Coalition stops ‘playing politics’

Labor’s foreign affairs spokesperson, Penny Wong, says it may be possible for Australia to achieve a diplomatic thaw with China despite the substantial differences between the two countries – if Scott Morrison abandons his “desperate” pre-election weaponisation of national security. The foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, this week met China’s new ambassador to Australia who has made several overtures for dialogue since arriving in Canberra in January. Subsequently, the shadow minister told the Guardian’s Australian Politics podcast that diplomatic engagement was important. Wong said if Labor won the federal election…

Labor warns China it should not ‘take comfort’ from Russian invasion of Ukraine

Labor’s shadow foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, has said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine should not embolden China’s regional ambitions as she called for the “strongest possible sanctions” against Moscow by the Australian government. While declining to comment specifically on whether events in Europe increased the likelihood of China moving on Taiwan, Wong said no country should see Russia’s invasion as “any justification” for challenging the status quo in the region. “It is the case that what is occurring is relevant to our region, is relevant to the whole world, where…

China accuses Australia of ‘violent’ interference in Five Eyes response to Hong Kong election

China has accused the Australian government of “violently interfering” in its internal affairs after Australia joined with its Five Eyes allies to voice grave concerns about the “erosion of democratic elements” in Hong Kong. Pro-Beijing candidates have been confirmed to occupy nearly every seat in Hong Kong’s new legislature after an overhaul of the electoral system that authorities said would ensure “patriots run Hong Kong”. Elections on Sunday were marred by record low voter turnout and held 18 months after authorities began a crackdown on political dissent in the name…

Is Peter Dutton picking a fight with China?

As military tensions heat up between Taiwan and China, defence minister Peter Dutton says it would be ‘inconceivable’ that Australia would not join military action if the US defended Taiwan. Labor has accused the Coalition of warmongering ahead of an upcoming election. Gabrielle Jackson talks to Lenore Taylor and Daniel Hurst about the threat of war, and the trouble with politicising foreign policy How to listen to podcasts: everything you need to know The Guardian