“That will have a positive impact beyond just the bilateral relationship between Australia and the US, but also on the entire global front of collective bargaining over China.”
The principle of guiding China’s policy in the region, no matter how noble, is asking a lot of Australian companies that endure $20 billion in trade strikes, of Chinese students undergoing racist attacks, and of Australians trapped in China. prisons.
There is collateral damage to the game of geopolitical checkers that is now underway and Australia is suddenly exposed.
Kurt Campbell, Biden’s Indo-Pacific coordinator, told The Sydney Morning Herald and The ages International editor Peter Hartcher said in March that the US was unwilling to improve its relationship with China while “a close and dear ally is subjected to some form of economic coercion.”
In July, this sentiment was hit with a dose of realpolitik. “I’m not sure [China] has the strategic thinking to go back to a different kind of diplomacy towards Australia at this point,” Campbell said, urging Australia to “settle for the long term.”
The meeting between Biden and Xi was vital. Most importantly, the superpowers have now entered into a dialogue about arms control — an avenue that could lead to both sides agreeing to avoid mutual destruction. They also discussed human rights issues in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong, and agreed to maintain the status quo in Taiwan. Just two days earlier, Australian Defense Secretary Peter Dutton had effectively deployed Australian forces on the Democratic Island.
No other country, except Japan, whose southernmost island is just 150 kilometers from Taipei, has made such a promise. The US now has Australian military support for a war it does not want.
The US would expect support from Canberra after its AUKUS deal with nuclear submarines, but Biden offered little in return in Tuesday’s meeting with Xi. There was no public lobbying for the lifting of trade sanctions on Australian goods.
Like Dutton, Biden was focused on optics at home.
“He was clear about the need to protect American workers and industries from the unfair trade and economic practices of the PRC,” the White House said.
Wang Yiwei, a professor of international relations at Renmin University and a member of the Communist Party, said relying solely on the US “isn’t smart.”
“Australia needs to think about its comparative advantage in the new era of globalization,” he said in an interview from Beijing.
“The economy is strongly linked to Asia, so it is very dangerous to place nuclear submarines in the South China Sea to contain China. Relations between China and ASEAN benefit from mutual trust. Australia can learn from that.”
Wang said that before Beijing to answer the phone, Canberra had to send a positive message to “make sure China thinks Australia is now serious about wanting to improve our relations”.
No Australian minister has had any contact with their Chinese counterparts in more than 18 months.
What would it take?
“Australia really needs to accept China to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Wang said.
“China also needs to do something to improve our relations with Australia. Both sides need to get closer, not just burn each other. Australia has national security concerns over China. They should have a bilateral or trilateral security dialogue with the US and China.”
Beijing is closely monitoring the Australian elections. The vote, set to take place next May, offers opportunities for a reset in Australia-China relations if a Labor government is elected.
“If Morrison is re-elected, he will have to think long-term,” Wang said.
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