Abbott models himself on his mentor and predecessor: the last Liberal prime minister, John Howard. Howard is commonly assumed to have repositioned Australia away from Asia and even closer to the United States. In reality, though, he went a long way to court Beijing, too. Abbott will try to do the same.
As the U.S.-Chinese rivalry deepens, Australia’s position between the two countries becomes even more delicate. Alas, Australia’s leaders have not handled that challenge very gracefully. With elections looming, both the progressives and conservatives deny that there is even a problem. There is.