WORLD Former Australian FM calls on Australia to "get out of the hole" with China

WORLD

Former Australian FM calls on Australia to "get out of the hole" with China

Xinhua

19:34, December 05, 2020

CANBERRA, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- Former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans has called on his country to "get out of the hole" into which it has dug itself with China.

File photo: agencies

In a recent article published on "Pearls and Irritations," a specialist blog focusing on policy development, Evans, who was the Australian minister for foreign affairs between 1988 and 1996, pointed out four key failures of Australia in managing its relationship with China.

"The first is ... too much tone-deaf stridency in our language, starting with the way Malcolm Turnbull introduced the undue influence legislation in 2017; too much over the top behavior, as in the ASIO/AFP raids on Chinese journalists", and too much unchecked offensiveness in parliamentary performances, he wrote.

The second point, as he mentioned, is the failure to fully factor in the risks of "not only irritating but hurting China, as we have done in not just joining but leading the international charge on Huawei, tough foreign investment restrictions and foreign influence laws."

He then talked about Australia's stands, too many of which "have played all too readily into the United States 'deputy sheriff' narrative."

The last point was the "insufficient recognition that there is not a lot of downside for China in getting stuck into Australia."

"China may like our coal, and agricultural products, and to have Australia as a student and tourist destination, but it does not need us for any of them," Evans wrote.

He then moved on to suggestions of how to get out of the hole, including "stop digging" and "moderate the official language."

"...our leaders should make absolutely clear, when we take a negative position on anything to do with China, that this is a matter of independent national judgment and not of looking over our shoulder for guidance from our own imperial masters," Evans said.

The next point was that Australia should acknowledge the legitimacy and inevitability of some of China's international aspirations as well as commercial concerns.

Finally he called on the Australian government to find issues on which there is common ground. "In areas like on climate, nuclear weapons, peacekeeping, counter-terrorism, arms control and -- for the most part -- response to pandemics, it (China) has played a more interested, constructive and potentially cooperative role than has generally been recognized," said Evans.

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