Dr Pulch said Australia made a strategic decision after announcing its insistence on a review to support the EU movement and then “strengthen it a little”.
“That might be a winning formula,” he said Sydney Morning Herald and Era. “That creates definite momentum.”
Dr Pulch, who was previously deputy head of mission in China, said the hands of Australia and the EU were forced by the withdrawing US. He said the medium power diplomacy model could be important for future negotiations.
“There is a leadership vacuum and we can fill it,” he said. “If you see this motion, in the end both China and the US can support it. If one of them will move forward with it, it might be blocked.
“You have to have some kind of facilitator, a moderator to make the landing zone acceptable to both parties.”
The Ambassador said the European Union had reassessed its relationship with China, acknowledged that it was an important economic partner and a systemic rival, and was watching the development of Australia’s “intensive” relations with Beijing closely.
“For a long time, there is hope or aspiration that it might be that with economic development in China, political development will follow but it will not or it will happen differently,” he said.
“When they claim that they lift millions out of poverty, yes they do – but they do this also with the help of the transfer of financial, investment, employment and technology tools that help create the basis for the economic miracles that we have seen.”
Dr Pulch also urged countries including Australia to go to a temporary mechanism at the World Trade Organization, which was signed by China, to resolve trade disputes related to diplomatic squabbling. He said similar tactics had been used have been used in European trade disputes after a country diplomatically opposed them. China maintains the two problems are not related.
“That will force China at one stage to basically show its hand – whether it is a political decision or whether it is a different decision,” he said.
“This is … the Chinese way of expressing displeasure with what you are doing. What’s important, I think, is someone trying to separate these things like you [Australia] do this time. ”
The comments came amid deep internal unrest within the Labor Party over lawmakers who blamed trade disputes over the actions of the Morrison government in pushing for a review.
In two separate television interviews on Thursday, Fitzgibbon directly linked trade disputes with global reviews – which directly contradicted Labor spokesman Penny Wong’s foreign affairs.
Senator Wong said on Thursday federal Labor had taken the view “that the two things are unrelated and should not be so”.
Fitzgibbon, a spokesman for opposition agriculture, said there would always be investigations.
“We don’t need to be out there up front, offending the Chinese. And if we don’t do that, we probably won’t have the diplomatic problems we are experiencing right now,” Fitzgibbon told ABC on Thursday afternoon.
One Labor lawmaker said they were “surprised” Fitzgibbon had taken a vocal stand given the events that led to his resignation as Minister of Defense in 2009.
Fitzgibbon was forced out of the frontbench after a series of scandals including the failure to declare the two trips he took to China in 2002 and 2005, paid for by Chinese-born businessman Helen Liu.
“That does not help and oppose the position of the party,” said a Labor MP.
Eryk Bagshaw is a Chinese correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Due to travel restrictions, he is currently based at the Houses of Parliament in Canberra.
Anthony is the foreign affairs and national security correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
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