By Invitation

How Pelosi upended Australia's big power balancing plans

The US Speaker’s visit to Taipei and China’s massive military response have starkly illuminated the intractable choices that Canberra confronts.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (left) visit to Taipei has done more than create a diplomatic headache for Canberra. PHOTO: AFP/TAIWAN'S PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE
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Australia's new Labor government came to office in May hoping to restore workable relations with Beijing after the deep freeze into which they had been plunged under the previous coalition government. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and his colleagues expected that a change in tone would be enough to do this, without making any material changes to Australia's policy settings or retreating from well-established positions.

And for a short while it seemed to be working. Mr Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong dropped the overtly bellicose and often deliberately provocative language directed at China by the previous government under Mr Scott Morrison. In return, Beijing showed itself willing to allow at least a partial thaw. Since May, China has agreed to a couple of meetings at the ministerial level after a 2½-year break, and there have been hints that bans on some Australian imports might be lifted.

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