“HARD ON CHINA”
The Chinese message paves the way for dialogue, but the outlook is hard to predict, said Elena Collinson, a researcher at the Institute of Australia-China Relations at the University of Technology Sydney.
“Certainly a reboot is not in the offing,” he said.
While Australia demands an end to Chinese economic punishment, Canberra’s “tough on China” stance may make it more difficult to agree to the concessions Beijing is likely to ask for, Collinson said.
Australia’s treasurer said Canberra would deal in a “considerate, sober and non-partisan manner” with China’s “more aggressive and assertive” stance in the Pacific region.
“The stronger the region, the more cohesive the region, the safer it is, the more prosperous it is,” he said.
Australia is concerned about Beijing’s growing influence in the Pacific region, including a recent security pact between China and the Solomon Islands.
A leaked draft of the agreement, which has not been made public, includes a section that would allow Chinese naval deployments in the Solomon Islands, less than 2,000 km from Australia.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will embark on a 10-day tour of Pacific island states including the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Papua New Guinea on Thursday.
Announcing the trip, China’s foreign ministry said it would be “beneficial to the peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region.”
Australia’s prime minister attended a “Quad” summit in Tokyo on Tuesday with the leaders of the United States, India and Japan, who jointly warned against attempts to “change the status quo by force” in the Asia-Pacific region. .
The Solomon Islands government severed ties with Taiwan in September 2019 in favor of diplomatic relations with China, a move that unblocked investment but stoked internal rivalries.