Former prime minister Paul Keating warns Australia has “lost its way” in the region and must acknowledge China’s pre-eminence.
He stresses this is vital for the two countries to “start to move towards a sensible relationship again”.
“I am back to talk about what I see as a deterioration in our strategic setting,” Mr Keating told the National Press Club on Wednesday.
“The country is now very much at odds with its geography and it has lost its way.
“We are still trying to find our security from Asia rather than in Asia.”
The former Labor leader said China’s socioeconomic power had become unrivalled in modern history.
“They are in the adolescent phase of their diplomacy — they have testosterone running everywhere, the Chinese,” he said.
“But we have to deal with them because their power will be so profoundly in this part of the world.
“China is not about turning over the existing world order. It only wants to reform it, and it wants to reform it because of its own scale.”