Australia warned over China 'mistake': 'Worst outcome'

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·Associate News Editor
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Australia's growing alliance with the US in the face of a more assertive China is "a mistake", one leading strategic expert has warned.

In recent years the Morrison government continued Australia's shift back to the Quad security dialogue with Japan, India and the US, while it announced last year Australia's new AUKUS security pact with the US and UK.

Both are measures widely seen as attempts to counter China's growing influence in the Indo-Pacific.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has committed to both since his appointment in May, however Hugh White, Emeritus Professor of Strategic Studies at the Australian National University, warned Australia must recognise China cannot be "pushed back in the box".

"We've been used to thinking of the United States as the dominant power in the world, the dominant power in Asia, and the country that can really solve our China problem for us. And I don't think that's true anymore," Professor White told ABC News Breakfast.

China has long criticised Australia and the US's alliance. Source: Getty/ AAP
China has long criticised Australia and the US's alliance. Source: Getty/ AAP

He said Australia has "underestimated" China's growth which has seen considerable economical, diplomatic and military development in recent years.

"I think we're still hoping that the United States can push China back in the box and turn China back into the sort of country it used to be when we found the relationship so easy to manage and I think that's a mistake," Prof White said.

"I think what we have to recognise is that the China we see today is the China we're going to have to live with."

Prof White warned Australia must now think independently and not rely on the US to solve our "China problem".

He proposed the Albanese government to work with Beijing instead of ganging up on China and find a way to live that is beneficial to both.

Is Australia sleepwalking to war?

The Labor party was highly critical of the Morrison government over its handling of China affairs, which saw relations rapidly deteriorate.

Last year, then shadow foreign affairs minister Penny Wong lambasted the Morrison government's China brash rhetoric, calling for more "cautious" and "sober" language instead of hyping up the threat of war.

However Mr Albanese has maintained a tough stance with Beijing, insisting it is China that has changed and has called for a sign from China that it is serious about repairing the relationship in the shape of scrapping trade sanctions.

Zhao Lijian says Australia is the 'real trouble' in the region. Source: FMPRC
China's foreign ministry spokespeople (Zhao Lijian pictured) have repeatedly slammed Australia's US relationship. Source: FMPRC

Beijing has repeatedly criticised Australia's US relationship, with its foreign ministry lambasting attempts to form anti-China cliques.

Chinese ambassador Xiao Qian once again on Friday called for "concrete actions" from Canberra to repair the relationship – a message that has remained consistent for well over 12 months.

Prof White's warning comes with the release of his Quarterly Essay contribution 'Sleepwalk to War' where he questions if the US and Australia are fighting a losing battle.

“Canberra’s rhetoric helps raise the risk of the worst outcome for Australia: a war between China and America, in which we are likely to be involved," he warns.

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