‘Oz doesn't have to choose between US and China’



Melbourne: Australia does not need to opt between maintaining its strong links with the US and strengthening its ties with China, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday, dubbing it a "false choice".

Clinton cautioned against the "zero-sum thinking" in Australia's ties with the US and other countries in the Asia Pacific, criticising those who have suggested that Canberra needs to opt between priority to ties with the US or China.

Clinton, who is her official visit to Australia, was quoted as saying in Adelaide by Fairfax media that her visit Down Under this week has reinforced the "indispensability" of the US-Australian partnership in terms of shared prosperity, security and values.

"That kind of zero-sum thinking only leads to negative-sum results," she said.

"We support Australia having strong multi-faceted ties with every nation in the Asia Pacific, indeed in the world, including China - just as we seek the same," she added.

"I know there are some who present a false choice, that Australia needs to choose between its long-standing ties to the United States and its emerging links with China," she said.

She said the US-Australia alliance wasn't simply about calculating costs and benefits, rather it was in both countries' DNA.

"It is rooted in shared history and shared struggles to overcome adversity and build a better future for ourselves, our families and future generations," Clinton said, adding "We are not fair-weather friends.

"Australia was a 'critical partner' in the Trans-Pacific Partnership currently being negotiated - an agreement that would open the way for free, transparent and fair trade, she said," according to the report.

Her remarks came a day after Australia's former Prime Minister Paul Keating launched a scathing attack on the government of Julia Gillard for deferring its foreign policy to the interest of the US.

He said both the Rudd and Gillard governments made the same mistakes as that of the former John Howard government in weakening Australia's crucial relationships.

Yesterday, Clinton had lauded India as an important player in the Indo-Pacific region and urged New Delhi to play a larger role in the region's affairs.

PTI