Australia's Ambassador to the US, Kim Beazley, has delivered a stark wake-up to Australian politicians and business people who believe they enjoy a "special" relationship with China.
Mr Beazley, who expects to move back to Perth this year after five years in Washington, said Canberra's understanding of and involvement with China was nothing compared with the blizzard of diplomatic ties being forged between the US and China.
"Some people in Australia think we are more engaged with China than the Americans," Mr Beazley said in a rare interview to be published in _WestBusiness Insider _ magazine on Thursday.
"I am afraid to say that is ludicrous. We are not on the same chess board. The Sino-American relationship is much deeper and much more broadly based than Australia's Chinese relationship.
"The Americans and the Chinese understand each other.
"It doesn't mean they agree but the diplomacy between them is intense, with more parties involved and more regularly than anything that goes on between China and Australia."
Mr Beazley pointed to the many US think tanks with links to senior Chinese leaders and the number who holiday in the US with former presidents as further evidence of ties with Beijing.
He also warned about placing too much confidence in bilateral China-Australia trade as a diplomatic tool. Though trade was essential, it was "ephemeral" because the relationship was at the mercy of supply and demand.
Investment in each country was more strategically important. "It has a greater level of permanency," he said.
By the measure of investment, Australia's relationship with the US was far deeper than its ties with China, Mr Beazley said.
Australia had invested $430 billion in the US, which was about 20 times what it directed to China. He said the US had more than $600 billion in Australia - six times what it had in China.
"Australia is really beginning to gear up massive investment in the US," he predicted.