With China renewing its commitment to territorial claims, and reactionaries like Donald Trump at the helm, the long-running South China Sea dispute could turn south very quickly.
Scott Morrison is quietly continuing Malcolm Turnbull's attempts to mend relations with the wannabe regional hegemon, but he has his work cut out for him.
Trade Minister Steve Ciobo has echoed Sam Dastyari's parroting of the Beijing line on the South China Sea. Whereas Dastyari was a "traitor", nothing has happened to Ciobo.
Between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, the whole region is on edge.
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In fact, he actually took the fight to China, in terms of regional security, while rightly noting that Australia does not have to “choose” between China and the United States.
Australia's northern neighbours are in various states of turmoil, it seems. And this has many watchers of the Asia-Pacific spooked.
The former PM has criticised his party for effectively outsourcing decision-making to the navy.