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Australia has to match its change of words with action

China Daily | Updated: 2018-02-26 08:04
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Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaks during a news conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia December 5, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been a prominent cheerleader for the China-bashing among Western leaders. However, when he embarked on his visit to the United States last week, he abruptly changed his tune and started to talk favorably about China.

In a joint press conference with US President Donald Trump on Friday, Turnbull stressed the economic opportunities presented by China's rise and said he and US President Donald Trump did not view the Asia-Pacific region "through an out-of-date Cold War prism" and do not regard China as a threat.

Turnbull's change of attitude is welcome given his previous remarks and the growing anti-China sentiment that it seemed he was allowing to fester in Australia.

Something that may have prompted Turnbull's about face since it has provoked a backlash at home, with even some former Australian leaders repeatedly urging Turnbull to discard his hostility toward China.

Turnbull may also feel the need for Australia to strike a balance between the increasingly intense competition between the US and China. After all, for a country wishing to maintain good relations with both China and the US, the best scenario for Australia would be to cooperate with both countries.

Be that as it may, if Turnbull is now choosing to look at China through a more objective prism that would obviously help build more trust between the two countries, which will only usher in a more cordial atmosphere for relations to deepenen and grow.

Yet the Australian government still needs to match words with deeds as some favorable remarks alone are not enough to dispel the deep-running bias some Australians harbor toward China.

In its most recent foreign policy white paper, Australia proposes that it can act as an honest broker between China and the US. But in order to do that it needs to demonstrate it is impartial and encourage Australian society to look at China and China-Australia ties through a fair and just prism too.

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