Australia won’t pick a side amid China-US trade war: official

By Chen Qingqing and Bai Yunyi Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/3 14:56:48

Consumers experience 5G mobile phones at a business hall of China Mobile Beijing Branch in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 31, 2019. Chinese major telecom operators announced Thursday the launch of commercial 5G applications during the opening ceremony of PT Expo China 2019 in Beijing. (Xinhua/Shen Bohan)

Australia will not pick a side amid the ongoing trade war between China and the US, Australian officials said, in spite of uncertainties lingering on whether the Oceanic country would allow China's Huawei to build its 5G network. 

It's no surprise that from time to time China and Australia will have different views, but both sides need to keep differences in perspective and focus on the vast quantity of common interest that they have, Elizabeth Peak, deputy head of mission of the Australian Embassy in China, told the Global Times during the 6th Edition of the China Inbound-Outbound Forum held in Beijing on Sunday. 

Australia has been at the front of the China-US trade war as the country became the first state in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance to issue security guidelines in August 2018 to telecoms carriers, urging them to reject Huawei. And the Oceanic country has been criticized as "a pawn" for the US in its global campaign in curbing Huawei.  

"China and Australia have very complementary economies,"Peak said, noting that the two countries do not suffer fundamental differences, and bilateral trade has been growing a very established foundation. 

However, it's no surprise that Australia and China have different views from a political perspective, but Australia does not see dealing with China or with the US as "a binary choice," the official said. 

"We'll be continuing constructive cooperation with both countries," she added. 

Huawei is reportedly pleading with the Federal Government of Australia now to allow it to be a 5G provider in the country, and it said it is committed to "a robust framework of safeguards, checks and balances" to ensure that its broadband technology could only be used in Australia's national interest and economic wellbeing, Australian Broadcasting Corp reported on Friday. 

In spite of political divergence, China and Australia have been enjoying  robust trade relations over the years. China remained Australia's largest two-way trading partner during 2017-18, with trade volume accounting for 24.4 percent of Australia's total trade, official data showed. 

Australian business representatives feel confident about striking a balance between handling an ally relationship with the US while maintaining sustainable business ties with China. 

"I think the key to managing that really well is to focus on the things that the we've got in common and not focus on some of the issues where there might be a difference of opinion," Nick Coyle, CEO and executive director of AustCham in Beijing, told the Global Times on Saturday. 

He also suggested that the two sides focus on things, which are productive for both sides, to overcome short-term issues in the political sphere. 

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