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March 4, 2021

Bishop plays down China’s public rebuke

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JulieBishop-WangYi
Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop and Wang Yi, foreign minister of the People’s Republic of China. Image from http://australia-unsc.gov.au

Foreign minister Julie Bishop has revealed she shared a delightful evening meal with her Chinese counterpart after his public rebuke last year.

Ms Bishop was upbraided by Wang Yi during a press conference in Beijing in December.

The foreign minister was criticised for ‘irresponsible’ comments after Australia condemned China’s declaration of an air-defence zone over an island chain also claimed by Japan.

He accused Australia of ‘jeopardising bilateral mutual trust’.

Last week, Australia’s top diplomat for north Asia, Peter Rowe, described the incident as the rudest display he’d seen in his 30-year career.

But Ms Bishop has played down the exchange.

‘He made a very robust point, to which I responded equally robustly,’ she told ABC TV.

‘There might have been some staging of events for the media.’

Asked if it was a bullying effort by the Chinese, Ms Bishop replied: ‘Well, it didn’t work if that was the intention.’

Ms Bishop said after the press conference the meeting continued for three hours and then the pair had a ‘delightful evening’ sharing dinner together.

In the past, former foreign ministers Stephen Smith, Kevin Rudd and Bob Carr had robust discussions with the Chinese behind closed doors, Ms Bishop said.

She denied that her gender had played a role.


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