Share on twitter Share on Google Plus by John Kehoe China’s latest efforts to embarrass the Turnbull government serve at least two purposes, according to seasoned Sino watchers in Canberra and Washington.Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has been perhaps the toughest critic of China’s militarisation of contested islands in the South China Sea.Beijing is annoyed by her principled stand backing an international rules-based system to determine competing sovereignty claims between Asian nations and to ensure freedom of navigation through the strategically positioned trade corridor.So, first, if China can press Australia or Japan to moderate their condemnation, smaller Asian countries will feel less emboldened to challenge Beijing. . China would then become almost unimpeded in the region, accelerating its stunning rise towards hegemony. Advertisement US President Donald Trump’s Asia policy team is understaffed and is yet to implement a detectable broad US strategy in Asia, despite articulating a commendable philosophy of a “free and open Indo-Pacific”.Trump is largely preoccupied with North Korea and bilateral trade tensions with China. He requires Beijing’s co-operation on both, so he would be reluctant to hit China on other matters.Second, Beijing is aware an election is coming in Australia.China apparently hopes that by bullying the Turnbull… Read full this story
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