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Australia’s ignorance the main cause for rising tensions with China: Australian media

By Shu Hua (People's Daily Online)    22:58, June 29, 2020

Screenshot of the report by The New Daily

The cause of tension in the Sino-Australian relationship is largely due to the ignorance of the Australia side, said a report of The New Daily on June 26, citing new research from The Australia Institute.

Australia is doomed to continue its tit-for-tat with China because Australia’s political class don’t understand its biggest trading partner, the new research claimed.

According to the report, in Australia there are only 20 academics and think tanks with expertise in China, and no specialist schools for training policymakers.

Although no one knows how many people are employed in the federal government to provide advice on China, our “stupid” approach reveals how little we understand it, Allan Behm, head of the International and Security Affairs Program at The Australia Institute, told The New Daily.

“If you’ve got about 20 people who know about China, you’re a hell of a long way beyond the queue line,” Behm was quoted as saying. “Our politicians don’t understand what they’re dealing with. They don’t have enough factual knowledge. They don’t understand its history or culture. They don’t know enough about Asia in general.”

The second thing, Behm noted, is “we take cues from the confrontation between Washington and Beijing and we fit into the slipstream of Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo,” stressing, “that’s stupid because Trump is unhinged and Pompeo is a loyal acolyte.”

In April, Australia enflamed bilateral tensions with China by calling for an independent international inquiry into the outbreak of COVID-19. “This shows we’re picking fights where we don’t need to,” Behm said. “We handled COVID-19 extremely badly.”

Australian needs to invest in education about China while exercising soft power and not parroting American foreign policy, the article added.

“China is here to stay and we have to deal with it,” said Behm. “All of that requires knowledge and great skills in advocacy. And finely honed diplomatic skills.” 

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