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Interview

Ex-envoy to China says Australian 'no strategy' diplomacy misfires

Geoff Raby blames Canberra defense establishment for riling top trade partner

Australia has "irritated" Beijing and caused it to "lose face," according to Canberra's former ambassador, who also says the spat shows "economic coercion is an important part of [China's] statecraft."   © Reuters

SYDNEY -- Australia's former ambassador to China places much of the blame for persistent tensions with Beijing on a failure of Australian diplomacy, threatening economic ties with his country's largest trade partner and fellow member of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership free trade pact.

China this year has blocked or imposed punitive import duties on a range of Australian exports, including barley, beef, wine, lobsters, cotton and timber. It is also denying port access to more than 50 ships carrying deliveries of Australian coal, while Chinese officials decline all forms of direct contact with Australia.

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