Former PM Paul Keating calls for Australia to rebuild its relationship with China

Jul 11, 2022
Despite ongoing tensions between Australia and China, Keating claimed "we have to return to a structured working relationship with the Chinese". Source: Getty Images.

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating has voiced his opinion on tense Australia-China relations, highlighting the need for Australia to rebuild its relationship with the global superpower.

Australia has endured a rocky relationship with China after former Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an investigation into the origins of Covid-19 which resulted in a freeze in political relations and China’s subsequent changes to their trade polices which was viewed as a form of retaliation and economic coercion aimed at Australia.

Tensions have been exacerbated recently as China attempts to establish security and trade deals with Pacific nations.

Despite the ongoing tensions, Keating claimed “we have to return to a structured working relationship with the Chinese.”

“The biggest state in Asia is China,” he told 7 News Spotlight.

“We can’t afford to put all the money on the US. We’ve got to have a working relationship with the Chinese.”

Although Keating believes “the prime minister and the government understand this” he stresses that Australia needs to be aware that “the rise of China is legitimate”.

“And if the Chinese are out there with rising incomes, and rising influence in their economy and in Asia because of it, what are we to say, ‘this is bad’ or ‘this is illegitimate’, which is really what the Morrison government was saying, effectively,” Keating said.

“That doesn’t mean to say we have to embrace the Chinese and accept all of their hyperbole but the truth of the matter is that we live in the East Asian hemisphere. We do not live in the Atlantic.

“If you look at the Caribbean, every state there’s got US fingerprints on it, right? And so I think we have to recognise China’s legitimacy, but at the same time, not bend over every time they want something we think is against our interests.”

It appears Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has no intention of bending over backward for China after stating he would “cooperate with China” but would not “respond to demands”.

The Prime Minister’s statements come after Foreign Minister Penny Wong and her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi met on Friday, July 8 at the conclusion of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Bali.

During the meeting, which is considered a significant step forward in the thawing of relations between the two nations, Yi issued four demands of Australia to repair relations between the two countries.

“First, stick to regarding China as a partner rather than a rival,” Yi’s statement read.

“Second, stick to the way we get along with each other, which features seeking common ground while reserving differences.

“Third, stick to not targeting any third party or being controlled by any third party.

“Fourth, stick to building positive and pragmatic social foundations and public support.”

However, Albanese made it clear that Australia “doesn’t respond to demands”.

“We respond to our own national interest,” Albanese told reporters.

“We will cooperate with China where we can. I want to build good relations with all countries, but we will stand up for Australia’s interests when we must.”

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