Downer criticises Chinese diplomacy

Downer criticises Chinese diplomacy


The former foreign minister has given Chinese diplomats a rebuke while also not holding back in his views on Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

Former foreign affairs minister Alexander Downer has delivered a rebuke to China about its heavy-handed policies.

Former foreign affairs minister Alexander Downer has delivered a rebuke to China about its heavy-handed policies.

FREED from the shackles of party politics former federal coalition foreign affairs minister Alexander Downer has delivered a clip to several targets during a frank speech at a grains industry event.

Speaking at the Australian Grains Industry Conference (AGIC) Mr Downer, who was also Australia's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 2014 to 2018 said he felt China's heavy-handed foreign policy may backfire.

"A good ambassador tries to exercise influence over their host, the current heavy-handed and clunky Chinese version diplomacy is proving to be counterproductive," Mr Downer said.

"It seems to be having the effect of uniting the west against them in reaction to their assertive behaviour," he said.

"I would suggest their diplomacy is poorly judged, over confident and has over-reached in its aims."

Mr Downer said it was not just Australia who had been on the receiving end of China's hard line stance.

China has been extremely aggressive in dealing with Great Britain, with Japan and with the US, he said.

"The leadership styles may play a part, under Hu Jintao, whatever tensions emerged died down quickly, whereas Xi Jinping is much more nationalistic."

He said China was often belligerent in its messaging in regards to Hong Kong and its presence in the South China Sea.

He said he hoped to see China scale back its aggression, which has manifested itself in hard line trade manoeuvres and heavy handed responses to many.

"I hope they understand the collaboration with the west, Japan and the US is better than this high handed confrontational style," he said.

However, he said he did not expect tensions between the US and China to dissipate any time soon, even if there is a change in president in the US when that nation goes to the polls later this year.

"I dont think that tension is going to change with a change in government," he said.

Mr Downer said Australia needed to expect more obstacles in trade with the Asian superpower, similar to the onerous tariffs levied on Australian barley for alleged dumping.

"With imports like iron ore and coal that are essential they wont hit Australia, but we have to appreciate it wont be a smooth operation as it has been in the past," he said.

"We want to collaborate and cooperate with China, we dont want to contain them, like we attempted to with the Soviet Union, but we dont want to be subjected to Chinese hegemony."

Mr Downer said relations with China had altered dramatically as its economy grew.

"When I was first foreign minister in 1996 it was Australia's sixth largest trading partner, and it has grown very rapidly, it was the largest by the time I finished," he said.

"There has been a bonanza out of the growth and we certainly wont see the rates of growth weve seen in the past.

"We will have more difficulty with China when they link trade with diplomacy.

"I think it is very sensible that governments have built trade agreements with other lucrative economies."

Mr Downer also offered analysis of the current US political situation.

He said he was surprised the Democrats had not come out with a moderate, articulate option to Donald Trump.

He was not flattering in his assessment of 78 year old Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

"What we are seeing there is someone who is well and truly past his best," Mr Downer said in regards to Mr Biden, who, similar to his rival Mr Trump, has had some high profile gaffes in the media of late.

The story Downer criticises Chinese diplomacy first appeared on Farm Online.


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