Canberra: The Australian Prime Minister, Malcom Turnbull clarified Australia’s stance by saying that the US was a strong, staunch ally, just as China was a very good friend, and the idea that it had to choose between any one of them was not correct. The Australian Prime Minister made this statement after bilateral talks with the Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang who is currently on a visit to Australia. The Chinese Premier also corroborated Turnbull’s statement and suggested that Australia did not need to choose between the US and China.
There is a cold war going on between the US and China over the sovereignty in the ‘Asia-Pacific‘ region. China has taken an aggressive stance over the ‘South China Sea’ conflict and warned the US to not intrude in this region. However, the US has already begun attempts to strengthen its position in the Asia-Pacific region by using the means of its ‘Asia Pivot’ policy. It is also said that the US has created an alliance with Japan, Australia and India for the containment of China’s sovereignty over the ‘South China Sea’.
Even though Japan and India have openly voiced their stand against China over the ‘South China Sea‘ issue, Australia is not willing to hurt China which is its largest trading partner. There is major difference of opinion within the Australian political circle with respect to the stand to be adopted with China. Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating has suggested that Australia needs to decide upon a policy in the ongoing conflict for sovereignty between the US and China. While Kevin Rudd, also a former Prime Minister of Australia has urged to adopted a pro-China policy by suggesting that Australia should not pick sides and be neutral.
Against this backdrop, the Chinese Premier’s Australia visit and the stand adopted by both the countries have been crucial. The Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang has hinted that their country would not try to pressurise Australia by stating that they respected Australia’s choices in their foreign policy and that they don’t wish for Australia to pick sides as they did during the Cold War.
Nevertheless, the Chinese Premier also claimed that his Australia tour was an effort towards attaining peace in the ‘Asia-Pacific’ region. He also said that China could focus on its economy and prosperity only if there was peace and friendship in the region. He also made an appeal that China would not militarise the South China sea.
Only a few days back, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop sharply criticized China over the subject of democracy. Meanwhile, she had also indicated that Australia would support the US if it was necessary. This statement received strong reactions from China.
A year ago, US Army Assistant Chief of Staff ‘Colonel Tom Hanson’ had suggested that Australia should pick between the US and China as its allied nation. He also expressed that it was time for Australia to decide between its trade relations with China and cooperation with the United States, it cannot evade this decision. Colonel Hanson also expressed his expectation from Australia by saying that while the US with its allied nations has taken its stance against China, Australia needed to take up a firm stance.