Aussie treasurer: National interests come first with China

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s treasurer says his country will always put its national interests ahead of economic interests in its troubled relationship with China. The comments from Treasurer Josh Frydenberg came after a White House official predicted long-term Sino-Australian tensions. Frydenberg said on Wednesday that China remains a “very important economic partner” despite bilateral disputes that have disrupted tens of billions of dollars in trade in Australian commodities including coal, wine, beef, barley and lobsters. Nevertheless, he said Australia “will not put economic interests first.” A clash over vaccine diplomacy is the latest rift in bilateral relations, which took a dive last year when Australia called for an independent investigation into the origins of and responses to COVID-19.