Australian opposition leader: China relations won't change

The opposition leader in Australia says its relationship with China will remain difficult even if his center-left Labor Party wins power at elections for the first time in almost a decade

Via AP news wire
Tuesday 25 January 2022 04:14
Australia Politics
Australia Politics

The opposition leader in Australia said Tuesday its relationship with China will remain difficult even if his center-left Labor Party wins power at elections for the first time in almost a decade.

Anthony Albanese addressed the National Press Club in what is regarded as an unofficial launch of campaigning ahead of elections due by May.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will address the club next week.

Albanese suggested Australia’s policy toward a more belligerent China would not divide the parties during the campaign.

“Whoever’s in government, it will be a difficult relationship,” Albanese said. “It will be difficult because the posture of China has changed. It is China that has changed, not Australia that has changed.”

“I don’t ... blame the government and never have for the current circumstances,” Albanese added.

Morrison is the third prime minister of the conservative coalition since 2013 when Albanese was the deputy prime minister of a Labor government that was voted out of office.

The first conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping during a Canberra visit in 2014 that marked a high point in bilateral relations.

But relations soured when Abbott’s successor Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced in 2017 updated treason and espionage laws that would outlaw covert foreign interference in politics.

Throughout Morrison’s tenure, which began in 2018, Chinese ministers have refused to speak to their Australian counterparts while key Australian exports including coal, wine and barley have been disrupted.

Exporters have generally supported the government’s willingness to risk angering China through policies such as calling for an independent investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Albanese said a Labor government would deal with China “in a mature way. Not by being provocative for the sake of it to make a domestic political point.”

“I don’t argue that a change of government will simply change the relationship. Because that’s just something that we have to deal with,” Albanese said.

Albanese said the three pillars of a Labor government’s foreign policy would be Australia’s alliance with the United States, engagement with regional partners and engagement in multilateral forums including the United Nations.

Albanese was critical of government cuts to aid spending in the Asia-Pacific region which had helped China increase its influence in the region.

“It was very short sighted for this government to withdraw from aid in the Pacific in the way that they did,” Albanese said.

“If Australia and democratic nations withdraw, guess what? There are others who may want to fill that gap,” he added.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in