In a non-too-subtle rebuttal of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s prioritisation of Japan as Australia’s “closest friend in Asia”, China’s visiting foreign minister Wang Yi said overnight that:
China may not be Australia’s closest friend at the moment but we can surely become your most sincere friend.
The SMH reports that Wang is in Australia for discussions with Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop as a prelude to the State visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping in November and to discuss the current negotiations on the free-trade agreement.
Notwithstanding Wang’s comments about friendship, it is clear that China sees Australia as an important ally.
“China welcomes and supports Australia to further understand Asia and to integrate into Asia and of course would also like Australia to play an active role as a bridge and as a link between the East and the West,” Wang said.
“Australia is a regional power with international influence and it is a key co-operation partner for China in its extended neighbourhood.”
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