Relations between Australia and its biggest trading partner China have cooled recently.
After an Air Identification Defence Zone was established over a set of disputed islands in the East China Sea, Australia hauled the Chinese ambassador in for an explanation.
This marked a low point in diplomacy between the two countries since the Abbott government came to office, and sparked fears that bilateral co-operation could suffer.
Hugh White, a professor of Strategic Studies at the Australian National University, sums it up perfectly in an article in the Australian Financial Review:
“Abbott and Bishop came to office with a strong disposition to support the US and strengthen the relationship with Japan. There was a conviction they could do both of these things without any cost to the relationship with China.
“This showed a curious and deep-seated naivety about the strategic realities in Asia in 2013. North-east Asia is more strategically contested than at any time since the end of World War II.”
The article says officials in China are worried about a change of tone from Australia’s leaders, and that it could threaten a recently signed strategic partnership.
There’s more here.
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