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Asia-first approach in Australia's interest

By Wang Hui | China Daily | Updated: 2013-09-16 08:23

With Tony Abbott, leader of the Liberal-National coalition, winning the federal elections to become Australia's new prime minister on Sept 7, Asian countries, China included, are watching with close interest what implications the leadership change will have on the region at large.

Judging by the remarks Abbott made prior to his election, it seems Australia is ready to pivot from its traditional allies in the West towards countries in the Asia Pacific. In an interview with the Lowy Institute earlier this month, Abbot said he would be an Asia-first prime minister, adding that he would not visit Washington or London as prime minister until after he had visited the main capitals of Asia, Jakarta and Beijing included.

Asia-first approach in Australia's interest

Australia's conservative leader Tony Abbott (C) stands with his wife Margaret (2nd L) and daughters (L-R) Frances, Louise and Bridget as he claims victory in Australia's federal election during an election night function in Sydney Sept 7, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]

Given that the first international trips of newly elected leaders tend to favor countries of traditional importance, Abbot's travel plans could signal that he will give more attention to Australia's regional trading partners in the Asia Pacific. As change in politicians' perceptions normally brings changes in policies, we have reasons to expect that Abbot will endorse a diplomatic policy that gives more gravity to enhancing ties with Asian countries in the foreseeable future.

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