Analysis: The new Australian government is looking to Southeast Asia as it deals with “difficult” Chinese relations

Sydney (Reuters) – Australia’s new Labor Party administration will place more emphasis on relations with Southeast Asia and climate change. This is an important issue for neighboring countries in the Pacific as it navigates more aggressive relations with China.

Relations between Canberra and Beijing have deteriorated in recent years, with China imposing trade sanctions on Australian products in response to policies and decisions such as an Australian investigation request on the origin of COVID-19 and a ban on 5G networks against Huawei. I am imposing. The next Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, promised that there would be no major changes in China’s policy under his government.

On Monday, Albanese said relations with China “will continue to be difficult,” while Australia’s alliance with the United States “along with our relations in the region and our multilateral commitments. Most important. “

Albanese and the new Foreign Minister Penny Wong will face early diplomatic challenges as they fly to Tokyo for a quad group leaders’ meeting in the United States, India and Japan on Tuesday.

Born in Malaysia, Wong is Australia’s first foreign-born foreign minister. She has worked in labor administration, which had close ties with her neighbors in Southeast Asia such as Indonesia.

Australia will bring new commitments to Southeast Asia and the Pacific to the quad conference, Wong said in an email on Monday.

“We have always understood the importance of Southeast Asia. We are all very different, but we know that our country faces many common challenges,” she said. Told. “We all need to work together to reshape the regional order, restore the pandemic, and, as President Widdo (Indonesia) told Congress directly, climate change.”

Labor also said it would like to cooperate with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The agenda of the Quad Conference covers stability and climate change in Ukraine, the Indo-Pacific and Pacific island nations.

The Quad is expected to use satellite tracking technology to announce an initiative to crack down on illegal fishing in the Pacific, the Financial Times reported on Saturday.

This is in line with workers’ commitment to strengthen aerial surveillance of the Pacific island nation’s huge exclusive economic zone and regain the $ 150 million lost annually in illegal fishing.

Pacific Islander leaders responded swiftly to the new government, raising more climate funding that was seen as lacking in reaching Australia’s region while China gained influence. Welcomed the workers’ pledges.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi will arrive in the Solomon Islands in the middle of the week to sign a controversial security agreement over other deals, including Australia’s election campaign and fishery agreement. The Solomon Islands government and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

China’s Global Times said Monday that Albanese’s attendance at the Quad was a test. [Prime Minister] Scott Morrison’s Anti-China Strategy. “

Richard McGregor, senior analyst at the Lowy Institute’s diplomatic think tank, said Albanese is unlikely to reset relations between Australia and China.

“The quad has strengthened the strict Chinese policies of these countries, and his second job is the Pacific Islands Forum, which is likely to follow after Wang Yi has swept the region,” he said. “It’s about competition, not about kissing or reconciliation.”

Pacific Islands leaders will soon be attending the Pacific Islands Forum, but the dates have not yet been announced. The Solomon Islands security agreement has become an important issue amid growing tensions between Washington and Beijing in the Pacific Islands.

(Report by Kirsty Needham, edited by Gerry Doyle) Analysis: The new Australian government is looking to Southeast Asia as it deals with “difficult” Chinese relations

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