China's anti-Australia rhetoric forces envoy to fly home

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Canberra/Beijing, Aug.20 (ANI): China's refusal to back down from its anti-Australia rhetoric, has prompted Australia's ambassador to China to return home for high-level meetings aimed at reviving the ailing relationship.

Tensions are still high in so far as Australia-China trade relations are concerned.

According to The Ages, Ambassador Geoff Raby arrived in Canberra on Wednesday for what one Australian official described as emergency meetings, but what a spokesman for Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said were routine meetings with ministers and department officials.

Raby yesterday cancelled engagements in Beijing.

The Chinese Government has so far postponed a visit to Australia by Vice-Premier Li Keqiang, China's likely future premier, and cancelled a visit by Vice-Foreign Minister He Yafei in retaliation for Australia granting Uighur dissident Rebiya Kadeer a visa.

China's top leaders have also endorsed the arrests of four Rio Tinto employees, including Australian Stern Hu, while commentators have called for further reprisals against Australian iron ore suppliers.

Smith is insisting that the Gorgon deal underscores the strength of the economic partnership, but Chinese commentators are now calling for broader reprisals against other key Australian export industries.

The Rudd Government "has no one other than itself to blame for the souring of Sino-Australian relations," thundered yesterday's China Daily editorial. "By providing Kadeer a platform for anti-Chinese separatist activities, Canberra chose to side with a terrorist."

No Chinese officials or media attended Tuesday's tightly controlled signing ceremony in Beijing for the Gorgon deal, which was attended by Resources Minister Martin Ferguson.

The silence contrasts with blanket coverage of the 25 billion dollar LNG deal witnessed by former Prime Minister John Howard and President Hu Jintao six years ago. (ANI)

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