Australia Trade Envoy Seeks Deal With India to ‘Tilt Away From China’

Former Australian PM Tony Abbott says India is the 'sensible substitute for belligerent Beijing'

Australian ties with China have rapidly deteriorated in recent years, and Canberra’s special trade envoy seeks a deal with India that he believes would signal the “democratic world’s tilt away from China.”

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott visited India last week as a special trade representative for Canberra. On Monday, an opinion piece written by Abbot was published in The Australian titled, “India the sensible substitute for belligerent Beijing.”

Abbott wrote: “A swift deal between India and Australia would be an important sign of the democratic world’s tilt away from China.” He described India and Australia as “like-minded democracies” and touted the increased military cooperation between the two countries under the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, known as the Quad, which also includes the US and Japan.

The UK’s new aircraft carrier that is deployed in Asia will soon join the Quad countries in annual Indian-led exercises known as the Malabar. Australia joined the Malabar exercises last year, marking the first time all four Quad countries held military drills together since 2007. India had previously been hesitant to allow Australia to participate over the fear of sending the wrong message to Beijing.

Abbott said the “answer to almost every question about China is India” and accused Beijing of exploiting “the West’s goodwill.” As prime minister, Abbott oversaw the signing of a free trade agreement between Australia and China in 2015, which Canberra has accused Beijing of violating by putting sanctions and tariffs on Australian goods.

The deterioration in Sino-Australian ties is due in part to the overall Western push, led by the US, against China. Abbot’s op-ed was full of the typical talking points coming out of Washington. For the US, and even NATO, boosting ties with India is a priority to counter China in the region.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.