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Canberra should not let past bias cloud judgment: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-11-23 21:12

The Chinese and Australian national flags in Sydney, Australia. [Photo/Xinhua]

Statistics released by the General Administration of Customs on Monday indicate China resumed imports of Australian barley in October, with the amount of the first batch of imports in more than three years reaching 313,700 tons worth $88.4 million.

Latest GAC statistics also indicate trade between China and Australia reached $189.88 billion from January to October, up 4 percent year-on-year, with China's imports from Australia rising 8.4 percent year-on-year. Speculation is high that other Australian exports to China such as lobsters and wine will resume soon, boosting the uptick in bilateral trade.

The rosier trade picture points to the new warmth that has been generated in the bilateral relationship since Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese took office and changed the country's policy course toward China.

Yet the recent war of words between Canberra and Beijing over which side was to blame for an incident involving a naval vessel of each country points to the necessity of them remaining alert so as to prevent any unexpected disruptions from drawing them apart again. It is normal that China and Australia should still encounter some differences. But as long as the two sides keep the channels of communication open and seek to handle any incidents in good faith, the foundation for their shared resolve to improve and deepen bilateral ties need not be shaken.

Since Albanese's visit to China earlier this month, China and Australia have successfully reset their relations. But as their recent spat shows, to fully melt the ice that had formed over several years will take time as the two sides need to rebuild mutual trust.

To sustain the positive momentum that has been generated by the efforts of both sides, Canberra and Beijing need to maintain an objective view of bilateral relations and not allow their previous disagreements to nudge their relations back onto the wrong trajectory because of a biased misperception. An unhurried evaluation of an unexpected incident will ensure that any lingering vestiges of the previous animosity do not cloud judgments.

In this regard, Australia's High Commissioner to Singapore Allaster Cox's recent remarks deserve note. According to Singaporean media reports on Wednesday, Cox told the media that Australia-China relations are now more stable and have a more solid foundation. He rebutted the suggestion that Australia and its allies are working together to contain China, emphasizing that this is not in Australia's interests. His assessment of the state of the Sino-Australian relationship highlights that Canberra and Beijing should not let a storm in a teacup gather strength to become a tempest that leaves their ties foundering again.

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