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Australia’s leader backs foreign minister’s work on China

May 15, 2018

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s prime minister has rejected a former diplomat’s opinion that the country needs a new foreign minister to thaw relations with China.

Geoff Raby was Australia’s ambassador to Beijing from 2007 to 2011. He used a scathing column in The Australian Financial Review newspaper on Tuesday to call for Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to be replaced.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull backed Bishop, telling reporters the column is “utterly wrong.”

Raby wrote that Bishop has not visited Australia’s most important trade partner in more than two years.

Turnbull said last month that “there is certainly some tension” in the bilateral relationship over his government’s proposed legislation to ban foreign interference in Australian politics.

China says Turnbull’s announcement of the ban was prejudiced against China and poisoned the atmosphere of relations.

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