Aus­tralia send­ing big del­e­ga­tion

Can­berra ‘must choose be­tween eco­nomic in­ter­ests, toe­ing US line’

China Daily (Canada) - - TOP NEWS - By LI XIAOKUN lix­i­aokun@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­terMal­colm Turn­bull, who is lead­ing a 1,000-com­pany del­e­ga­tion to China to tap the country’s big­gest ex­port mar­ket, should be care­ful and con­sid­er­ate about Can­berra’s stance on the South China Sea, ob­servers said.

Bei­jing an­nounced Tues­day that Turn­bull visit China on Thurs­day and Fri­day and at­tend the an­nual China-Aus­tralia prime min­is­ters’ meet­ing.

He is lead­ing Aus­tralia’s largestever trade mis­sion to China. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the 1,000 com­pa­nies will at­tend Aus­tralia Week in China events be­gin­ning on Mon­day in 12 cities.

Ac­cord­ing to the Aus­tralian As­so­ci­ated Press, Turn­bull will be warmly wel­comed with talks and ban­quets with both Pres­i­den­tXi Jin­pin­gandPremier LiKe­qiang. It is his first visit to China since tak­ing of­fice in Septem­ber.

The visit comes right af­ter Turn­bull calledChina’s mil­i­tary de­ploy­ments in the South China Sea “coun­ter­pro­duc­tive”.

Bei­jing has said the United States is mil­i­ta­riz­ing the re­gion with fre­quent pa­trols and that China has ev­ery right to con­struc­tion in its own ter­ri­tory.

Ear­lier this month, Aus­tralia for the first time joined a US-Philip­pines joint drill in the SouthChina Sea, an ex­er­cise seen as on will ap­par­ently tar­get­ing China.

Turn­bull did not say whether the South China Sea is­sue would be raised in Bei­jing, when he was asked about it in Perth onWed­nes­day.

Han Feng, deputy head of the Na­tional In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Strat­egy of the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences, said the 1,000-com­pany del­e­ga­tion re­flects the high ex­pec­ta­tions Aus­tralia pins on eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion with China.

Han said that although Aus­tralia is un­der pres­sure from the US on the South China Sea is­sue, he was sure that Aus­tralia knows its eco­nomic in­ter­ests with China should come first.

“It will be a test of Aus­tralian lead­ers’ po­lit­i­cal wis­dom,” Han added.

Zhang Yuyan, head of the In­sti­tute of World Eco­nom­ics and Pol­i­tics of the CASS, said Aus­tralia’s ten­dency to in­ter­ve­neon­theSouthChina Sea is­sue will “more or less” im­pact its eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion with China, as “it is about China’s core in­ter­ests”.

“It will cast a shadow on the promis­ing co­op­er­a­tion if such a ten­dency keeps de­vel­op­ing,” Zhang said. “Can­berra has to view the sit­u­a­tion com­pre­hen­sively.”

The visit comes four months af­ter the China-Aus­tralia Free Trade Agree­ment took ef­fect.

Un­der the agree­ment, more than 86 per­cent of Aus­tralian ex­ports can en­terChina duty-free, ris­ing to 94 per­cent in 2019 and 96 per­cent in 2029.

Mal­colm Turn­bull

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