Andrew Shearer argues that Australia and Australia's partners in Asia must collectively resist Chinese "bullying" as they each draw closer to Beijing.
Two developments yesterday in Australia underlined the paradox underlying its relationship with China: Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith confirmed that a scheduled visit by Vice Minister He Yafei had been cancelled by the Chinese government because of Canberra's decision to grant a visa to exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer. Also yesterday, the announcement of a 50 billion Australian dollar ($41 billion) liquefied natural gas deal reaffirmed China's economic importance to Australia and China's insatiable need for Australian resources and energy.
The dilemma is this: The closer free nations draw to China, the greater the potential friction with Communist Party interests. Australia's partners in Asia and beyond need to pay attention to the lessons Canberra is learning.