Malcolm Turnbull

Turnbull, Payne deny China a threat to Australia

Defence Minister Marise Payne has denied China is a threat to Australia's national security. Source: AAP

Defence Minister Marise Payne has denied China is a threat to Australia's national security.

The Turnbull government has backpedalled on suggestions China is a threat to Australia's national security.

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis identified countering China's rapidly expanding military and an increasingly aggressive Russia as America's top national security priorities when he released a new strategy earlier in January.

Defence Minister Marise Payne, over the weekend, said Australia shared similar concerns.

On Monday, she clarified: "Australia doesn't see a threat in the region and we certainly don't see China as a threat."

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull backed that view.

"We don't see threats from our neighbours in the region, but, nonetheless, every country must always plan ahead and you need to build the capabilities to defend yourself, not just today, but in 10 years or 20 years, hence," he told reporters in Sydney as the government outlined its new defence industry exports plan.

"You may not feel that they will be firing a shot in anger today or in the foreseeable future, but things can change."

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop insisted Australia had a different view to the US.

"We have a different perspective on Russia and China, clearly," Ms Bishop told Sky News.

"We do not see Russia or China as posing a military threat to Australia."

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