Pragmatism and strategic autonomy good for Australia and regional interests

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said at a business forum in Sydney on Tuesday that Australia wanted "greater diversity in who we trade with, and greater variety in what we trade, meaning our economy is more resilient and more secure".

He said that before leading a business delegation to India for a four-day visit starting from Wednesday.

Those who took that remark as a message of the Albanese government to Beijing that it is easing Australia's reliance on China in trade are reading too much into it.

They should not ignore the fact that the Australian leader also stressed at the forum that, despite the differences between China and Australia, his government will continue to take part in engagement with China in a constructive and mature manner, because it serves the common interests of the two countries, as well as regional stability and security.

China on its part welcomes countries strengthening their economic and trade cooperation as long as it follows market laws and does not target any third party, as that contributes to promoting shared development and the stability of global supply chains.

The pragmatism and strategic autonomy the Albanese government has demonstrated in its diplomatic and trade policies — so has New Delhi in that regard to some extent — is more than welcome. It serves not only Australian interests but also sets a good example for other countries on upholding multilateralism, if not the possibility of maintaining constructive relations with both the United States and China at the same time.

With their economic and trade cooperation recovering fast and bilateral institutional dialogue and consultation on diplomacy, economy and trade resuming at various levels, China and Australia should continue to respect each other's core interests and major concerns, cherish and maintain the momentum of improvement in bilateral relations, as Foreign Minister Qin Gang emphasized during his meeting with his Australian counterpart on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in New Delhi last week.

In spite of the dire consequences his predecessor's blind following of the US' strategy to contain China had on Sino-Australian trade, China remains the largest market of Australia, accounting for about 40 percent of its exports, mainly minerals, energy and agricultural produce.

The economic, trade and investment cooperation between Australia and China is mutually beneficial, and Australia should maintain a fair, just and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese enterprises to invest and do business in the country so as to better tap into the complementarity and potential in economy and trade cooperation with China.