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Australia and China push the ‘reset’ button on an important relationship

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Australia can thank an erratic Donald Trump for the opportunity to “reset” its relationship with China after a chill engendered by what was interpreted as criticism from the then prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and foreign minister, Julie Bishop.

Turnbull had caused offence with his criticism of Chinese interference in Australian politics via Beijing’s front organisations. And in March 2017, Bishop had questioned China’s political model in a speech in Singapore.

A reset was already in the works before Turnbull was felled in August in a palace coup. The two countries had been reassessing shared interests in light of the wrecking ball US President Trump has taken to an international rules-based system.

Read more: Morrison and Shorten reveal their positions on key foreign policy questions

Former treasurer and new Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s elevation of Marise Payne to replace Bishop provided a pretext for an important diplomatic engagement in Beijing in the lead-up to what is being called the “summit season”.

This interaction may well have happened anyway, but a changing of the guard in Canberra helped get over any “face issues” that might have lingered after fairly trenchant criticism of Australia in Chinese official mouthpiece publications.

Payne’s arrival in the Chinese capital ahead of an East Asia Summit in Singapore,........

© The Conversation