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China central to Australia's new national security plan

Updated: 2013-01-24 04:35
By Cheng Guangjin ( China Daily)

Australia on Wednesday unveiled the country's first national security strategy, placing Canberra's principal focus on the Asian region.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard launched the strategy at the Australian National University in Canberra. She said Australia's principal national security focus will be on its own region, as the global economic and strategic center of gravity continues to move east, bringing great opportunities as well as risks and challenges that must be managed, according to Xinhua News Agency.

The strategy describes eight pillars of Australia's approach to national security, including countering terrorism, promoting a secure international environment and the Australia-United States alliance.

In the strategy, it noted that Australia's region is home to several major powers, but its "major ally the US" and "major trading partner China" will have the greatest influence on the region.

"Australia will continue to engage in practical cooperation with China on issues of shared concern and will seek to encourage negotiated resolutions to any regional disputes," it said.

It also said Australia would welcome China playing an "increasingly active and constructive role in multilateral forums, commensurate with its status as a global power".

Bilaterally, it said Australia will seek to build on its robust economic relationship, political and strategic dialogue and established defense ties "to develop a more comprehensive dialogue across the breadth of issues of shared interest" with China.

Since the two countries established diplomatic relations on Dec 21, 1972, bilateral trade has grown from around $100 million to more than $100 billion in 2011.

China and Australia have held 15 rounds of strategic defense dialogues since 1997, which have produced substantial programs of practical activities, including high-level exchanges of defense personnel and ship visits.

The strategy complements a white paper titled Australia in the Asian Century released in October 2011, which reviews economic and strategic changes in Asia, and the opportunities and implications they will have for Australia.

It comes at a time when Australia is entering a new national security era, in which the behavior of states, not non-state actors, will be the most important driver and shaper of Australia's national security thinking, said Gillard.

Australian Ambassador to China Frances Adamson said the strategy "recognizes China as an important regional and global player, and reiterates that Australia wishes to continue to build a comprehensive, constructive and cooperative relationship with China.

"Australia intends to continue to work together with regional partners, including China, to contribute positively to regional peace and stability," the ambassador said in a news release.

"It is our intention to continue practical cooperation with China on issues of shared concern. It is in the interests of all regional countries, and the world more generally, that the Asia-Pacific is peaceful and prosperous, now and into the future, and Australia looks forward to continuing to work with China across the broad sweep of our bilateral relationship to that end," Adamson said.

When asked to comment on Australian's strategy, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Wednesday that China unswervingly adheres to the path of peaceful development.

Hong said China noticed that the strategy comments positively on China's role in regional affairs and the multilateral arena.

China hopes the strategy will help Australia properly handle current international and regional situations, commit itself to the stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and promote China-Australia relations, he said.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

Contact the writer at chengguangjin@chinadaily.com.cn

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