Julie Bishop downplays diplomatic spat with China over new air defence zone

Julie Bishop downplays diplomatic spat with China over new air defence zone

Julie Bishop downplays diplomatic spat with China over new air defence zone

Updated 7 December 2013, 19:59 AEST

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has played down a diplomatic row with China, after another stern rebuke over her comments regarding the country's new air defence zone.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has played down the diplomatic row with China, after another stern rebuke over her comments regarding the country's new air defence zone.

Ms Bishop last week summoned Beijing's ambassador to voice opposition to the zone, which in part covers an area also claimed by Japan.

During bilateral talks with Ms Bishop last night, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi publicly declared Australia had "jeopardised bilateral mutual trust".

"I have to point out that what Australia has said and done with regard to China's establishment of the air defence identification zone in the East China Sea has jeopardised bilateral mutual trust and affected the sound growth of bilateral relations," he said.

Mr Wang also said the general public in China are "deeply dissatisfied" with Australia's comments.

But Ms Bishop says the row over the air defence zone did not dominate her talks in Beijing.

"The Chinese minister, foreign minister Wang, put his position, and I, on behalf of Australia, put our position and we moved on to other issues," she said.

"This is a robust relationship. Friends don't always agree on every issue. Friends are able to discuss issues, air their differences, and move on."

However, she did reiterate after the talks that Australia has concerns about the air defence zone.

The move by China has fuelled tensions with Japan because the zone covers Tokyo-controlled islands - known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China - where ships and aircraft from the two countries already shadow each other in a potentially dangerous confrontation.

"Australia is concerned that there be peace and stability in our region and we don't want to see any escalation of the tensions," Ms Bishop said.

"We want to see a de-escalation of tensions. It is in our interests, and indeed in the interests of a number of countries in our region, that there be peace and stability in the East China Sea, the South China Sea, and the region more generally."