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Source: Reuters
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  • One of US President Joe Biden’s top advisors says he does not see Australia-China tensions easing any time soon
  • White House Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Cambell told the Asia Society think thank that Beijing’s stance towards Australia seems “unyielding”
  • However, he says that as Beijing looks to be working to harm Australia’s alliance with the US, Canberra-Washington ties are only getting stronger
  • The comments come in the midst of a trade spat between China and Australia in which Beijing has introduced massive tariffs on some Australian products
  • President Biden will host a summit this year with leaders from Australia, Japan and India to discuss issues and concerns in the Asia-Pacific region

One of US President Joe Biden’s top advisors has told the Asia Society think tank that he does not see Australia-China tensions easing any time soon.

White House Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell warned overnight that Beijing’s aggressive stance towards Australia seemed “unyielding”, with no immediate end to the “harshness” in sight.

The comments come in the midst of a trade spat between China and Australia that has seen Beijing introduce massive tariffs on Australian products such as beef, barley and wine.

Tensions between Beijing and Canberra started to rise after the Morrison Government banned Chinese tech giant Huawei from its 5G network in 2018. Things only became worse after Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19 last year.

Mr Campbell told former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who is president of the Asia Society, that it seemed like China was trying to “cut Australia out of the herd”, referring to Canberra’s US allies.

He said Beijing could be trying to “completely change how it both sees itself and sees the world”.

“I’m not sure that they have the strategic thinking to go back to a different kind of diplomacy towards Australia right now,” Mr Campbell said.

“I would have thought we were basically settling in for the long haul in terms of tensions between China and Australia.”

However, he said Beijing’s efforts against Australia were, in effect, deepening the relationship between Canberra and Washington.

“These are not completely like-minded governments but there is a tremendous sense of common purpose with respect to some of the challenges we’re facing in the Indo-Pacific and some of the opportunities,” he said.

“If anything, what we’ve seen over the past six to eight months is a deepening, intensifying relationship between Canberra and Washington.”

President Joe Biden plans to host a summit later this year alongside the leaders of Australia, Japan, and India — a group Mr Campbell said the White House sees as a means of standing up to China.

The “Quad leaders” meeting is slated for late September and attending leaders are likely to discuss issues around COVID-19 vaccine distribution in the Asia-Pacific, infrastructure funding for the region, and more.

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