Melbourne: In the backdrop of China`s angry reaction over Australian criticism of its newly-declared air defence zone, Australia today said the row will not affect upcoming bilateral trade talks.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she did not believe the comments would affect the country`s hopes of securing a free trade agreement with China next year.
"This is an ongoing issue and there has been an occasion for us to ask the ambassador to clarify the situation.
"The Chinese government has responded, but our overall relationship continues. China is our major trading partner, we have a very deep and longstanding engagement with China but it is appropriate that each side be able to raise concerns with each other and do it in a way that hopefully will receive appropriate consideration," Bishop said.
She brushed aside any pressure from the US on the issue.
"This is longstanding Australian policy to oppose any unilateral or coercive action by any country that could add to the tensions that currently exist in the East China Sea.
"We have a key stake, a key interest in ensuring that there is peace and stability in the East China Sea in our region. We are not the only country to have raised concerns. We would raise concerns if any other country had done something similarly," she said.
Stating that the issue was not going to affect her upcoming trip to China, Bishop said: "No, I expect this to be a matter of discussion but we have raised this issue before and I`ve had discussions with the Chinese government previously about this matter, so we will continue to raise our concerns."
Earlier, Bishop had summoned Chinese Ambassador Ma Zhaoxu to raise Australia`s concern over the new air defence identification zone (ADIZ) which covers airspace over a string of uninhabited islands - known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan - at the centre of a longstanding territorial dispute between the two regional powers.
The move was lashed out by China, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang saying, "China points out that it is completely wrong for the Australian side to make irresponsible statements on China`s establishment of the East China Sea ADIZ."
Chinese Foreign Ministry asked Bishop to "correct" her characterisation of its new air defence zone or risk damaging bilateral ties.
"It is completely a mistake for Australia to make irresponsible remarks on China`s establishment of an air defence identification zone in the East China Sea, and the Chinese side will not accept it.
"China urges Australia to correct its mistake immediately to prevent damaging Sino-Australia relations," Qin said.