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Why a former Australian diplomat expects relations with China to improve in January

Article image for Why a former Australian diplomat expects relations with China to improve in January

Australia’s relationship with China has reached its lowest point in decades, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday labelling a tweet from a senior Chinese official “truly repugnant”.

The tweet featured a doctored image of an Australian Defence Force soldier holding a knife to the throat of a child.

It comes after the recent war crimes report which found “credible information” that Australian Special Forces personnel may have murdered 39 prisoners and civilians in Afghanistan.

Former Ambassador to the US and Japan, John McCarthy AO, says he expects relations between China and Australia to improve in January.

“I suspect the atmosphere might be better when Biden comes to power because the Chinese may, at that time, want to present a more reasonable face to the world,” he told Ross and Russel.

But what Australia does in the meantime is important.

“You’ve got to have a cooling off period,” Mr McCarthy said.

“That means, from an Australian perspective, not resiling from the positions we’ve taken, that’s very difficult to do, but at least not digging ourselves any further in, at least in the short term.

“It’s a question of avoiding, over the next two or three weeks, and much longer really, the sort of actions which are likely to provoke the tit for tat.

“Then hopefully, slowly, we’ll be able to get things back together again.”

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Prime Minister demands an apology from China over ‘truly repugnant’ tweet

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