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Australia Urges US, China to Avoid Cold War-Style ‘Misadventure or…Miscalculation’

FILE - Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese gives the keynote address at the 20th IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, June 2, 2023.

Australia has warned that protections are not in place to prevent a Cold war-style “misadventure or…miscalculation” between the United States and China. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said that “the guard rails aren't in place” to prevent confrontation between the major powers.

Tensions have been rising between Beijing and Washington following another military encounter in the Taiwan Strait. The U.S. Navy Monday released a video of what it said was an “unsafe interaction” when a Chinese warship crossed in front of a U.S. destroyer.

After returning from a trip to Singapore and Vietnam, where regional security was discussed, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, in a wide-ranging interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Monday, said the two major powers needed ‘guardrails’ - or safeguards - that would help to avert potential conflict or confrontation.

He added that “nation to nation” communication was the best way to avoid potentially “disastrous consequences”.

“Peace can't be taken for granted and the key to that, of course, is dialogue," Albanese said. "The problem that had occurred as a breakdown in those relations and that's why the US administration has called for increased dialogue with China, is so important, and it is one that we support, and it is one that we have encouraged China to participate in.”

Australia and its Indo-Pacific allies, including Japan and Vietnam, fear China’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea, one of the world’s most disputed regions.

Australia is a so-called middle power. Its decades-old alliance with the United States is the bedrock of its national security.

Its relations with China, its biggest trading partner, have become tense in recent years over human rights, the South China Sea, democracy in Hong Kong and the origins of COVID-19.

But there are signs that high-level diplomacy is bringing stability back into the bilateral relationship. Albanese confirmed Monday that import restrictions imposed by China on Australian stone fruit had been lifted in the recent days following similar moves to allow the flow of Australian commodities, including coal, barley and timber, into China.

Albanese said that China’s Assistant Foreign Minister Hua Chunying would also visit Australia in July.

The Australian Prime Minister said he had again been invited to attend the NATO summit next month and that Canberra has a key role to play in regional and global diplomacy.