Wed, 16 Jun 2021

CANBERRA, May 12 (Xinhua) -- Australian politicians should be cautious with their words and avoid further tension with China, some experts recently urged.

James Curran, a professor of modern history at Sydney University, said that the escalation in Australian rhetoric "is another capstone in a rolling narrative of the China 'threat'."

"Yet no other country is using this language. Canberra is now out ahead even of the Americans," he said in an opinion piece carried by the Australian Financial Review on Monday.

Echoing Curran's comments, Gareth Evans, former Australian foreign minister who is now honorary professor at the Australian National University (ANU), warned policymakers to avoid "excessive zeal" in their comments on China.

"You've got to be careful about your language, careful about the policy measures that you put in place, because you've got to be constantly recognizing that China represents over 30 percent of our exports, we've got a huge degree of economic dependence," he said at an Asialink podcast earlier this month. "It's just crazy to think that we can diversify all of that source of the income by going somewhere else."

He also said that Australia should be careful about excessive dependence on the United States, stressing that "the notion of total dependence on the U.S., to follow the U.S. down every rabbit hole it wants us to engage in ... I think those days are gone."

"America is always going to follow its own interests -- whether it's there for us militarily if some catastrophe does erupt in a region, is going to depend entirely on America's assessment of its own interests and we just have to be wide awake to that," he warned.

"Less America, more self-reliance, more Asia -- both in terms of getting our relationship with China right and getting our relationship with the other key counterweight Asian players right."

Evans also suggested that the government be more cautious with advice from security agencies. "All that stuff has to be very contested and contestable if you're going to get good policy."

In another piece on The Saturday Paper, Hugh White, professor of strategic studies at the ANU, talked about the serious consequences that could arise if tensions keep escalating between Australia and China.

That the government has no viable plan to fix its ties with China should count "as one of the biggest failures of statecraft in Australia's history," he said.

The professor believed that China's inevitable rise to become a superpower needs to be accepted, saying that there is "a new order in Asia" that Australia should accept.

"Australia must conceive a new relationship with China," he said. "It would mean a revolution in our foreign policy."

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