Australia dodges war hawks on China

Former politician Bob Carr argues Australia narrowly avoided being left hung out to dry on China. (AAP)

Former foreign minister Bob Carr argues Australia narrowly avoided being left hung out to dry on China.

Australia would have been hung out to dry if it had listened to war hawks on a tougher stance with China, former foreign minister Bob Carr says.

When it came to China policy, Australia should be cautious about listening to hawks and viewing its relationship with China through a "Washington lens", Mr Carr says.

"If allies such as Australia sign up for a burst of crusading zeal, they are liable to be hung out to dry when America changes direction," he wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday.

"No other American ally is as dependent on China for its economic future. If the Turnbull government had been persuaded by the hawks, right now that would be our position: out to dry."

Labor senator Pat Conroy says Australia's relationship with China could always be made stronger.

"Managing the rise of a superpower like China while we have another in the United States is the preeminent challenge of global diplomacy. More focus needs to be on it," Senator Conroy said.

"I don't always agree with Bob Carr but I think more resources need to be put into it and we need to manage that transition very carefully."

Liberal MP Luke Howarth has described Australia's relationship with China, it's biggest trading partner, as rock-solid.

"On a positive note, we've also seen the Trump administration reach out to the Chinese government," Mr Howarth said.

US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met for the first time at President Trump's Mar-a-Lago Florida resort in April.

"We've seen in recent weeks President Trump refer to the Chinese president as a close friend and ally, particularly around working together to stop North Korea's provocative missile tests," Mr Howarth said.

"It's important that Australia continues to be friends with everyone."

There has been considerable uncertainty about the future of the USA's 'pivot to Asia' strategy announced during the Obama administration.

US Acting Assistant Secretary of State Susan Thornton has said the language of a 'pivot' belonged to the previous administration.

The Trump administration has yet to detail its own formulation.

Source AAP

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