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What Donald Trump needs to hear from Australia’s Morrison

33 3 0
17.09.2019

AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s state visit to Washington later this week is a rare honour — the first for an Australian leader since John Howard in 2006 and only the second, behind French President Emmanuel Macron, granted by this administration. That is a mark of Morrison’s early success in connecting with Trump, a leader not normally known for his acoustic sensibility to close allies.

The visit will undoubtedly give a symbolic flourish to the recent description by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of the US–Australia alliance as ‘unbreakable’. But the Prime Minister’s visit comes at a poignant time for his government’s management of Australian foreign policy. The truism that Canberra can maintain its delicate traversal of the diplomatic tightrope between Washington and Beijing is under genuine test.

One view is that Trump will demand a heavy price for the pageantry by demanding Australia choose America over China. That might be the kind of grandstanding that some equate with Trump, but it is unlikely. In any case, Pompeo’s recent remarks in Sydney — both on the manner of China’s rise and where Australia’s priorities ought to lie — have already done Trump’s dirty work. By raising the possible pre-positioning of US missiles on Australian soil, Pompeo lobbed a rather large stone indelicately into the Australian pond.

For Trump, it will probably suffice that Morrison has expressed sympathy for what the United States is trying to correct in its trade war with China, on holding China to account for how it operates within the international trading system, albeit in language that has little resonance in East Asia and undermines Australian and Asian........

© Asian Correspondent