ELIZABETH JACKSON: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is scrambling to defuse a diplomatic crisis with China this week over her reported comments to Fairfax that she planned to take tougher stand on China than her Labor predecessors.

The comments have prompted criticism from China’s media, including the country’s most popular tabloid, China’s Global Times, which described the Australian Foreign Minister as a “complete fool”.

Julie Bishop has reportedly written to China’s official news agency adamant that her comments were misrepresented.

Australia’s leading China analysts have warned that the attacks on the Foreign Minister should be seen as a red flag for the Abbott Government to watch its language when dealing with the super power.

Deborah Cornwall with this report.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: It wasn’t exactly a state sanctioned attack against Australia’s Foreign Minister but when China’s most popular tabloid the Global Times let fly this week at Julie Bishop, the Abbott Government, and Australians generally, Australia’s leading China expert says it’s a message we really can’t afford to ignore.

Geremie Barme, is professor of Chinese history at the Australian National University.

GEREMIE BARME: Shíbào is a very popular newspaper in China and it also has a generally good sense of the mainstream official opinion of the country, otherwise it wouldn’t appear, and they can get away with a lot of type of name-calling that the official media would sort of resile from.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: In a broad ranging attack, the Global Times editorial said Australia was a European outpost settled by “outlaws and rascals” yet it had a completely deluded sense of its power in the Asian region.

The newspaper also lampooned Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, describing her as a “complete fool” over a report in the Fairfax Press last week – she planned to adopt a tougher stance with China than her Labor predecessors because, she said, China didn’t respect weakness.


Deborah Cornwall reported this story on Thursday, July 17, 2014