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Australia election

China on the ballot in Australia as Solomons pact upends debate

Labor shares Liberals' hawkish tone but looks set to pursue more regional diplomacy

Labor leader Anthony Albanese, left, and Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison are both seeking to assure voters that they can manage difficult relations with China. (Nikkei montage/Reuters/Getty Images)

SYDNEY -- Ice-cold ties with China have been a hot topic in Australia's federal election campaign, ahead of the vote this Saturday. But experts say the rival Liberal and Labor parties are more alike than they would care to admit, albeit with subtle distinctions.

The polls come at a sensitive time for Australia's relationship with its largest trade partner, which also happens to be its geopolitical nemesis. The election is also just days before Australia is due to participate in a Quadrilateral Security Dialogue summit in Tokyo next Tuesday, where concerns over China's spreading influence are sure to loom large.

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