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Julie Bishop to Xinhua: I never said 'stand up to China'

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Julie Bishop interview that 'never happened'

Listen to the comments that China says Foreign Minister Julie Bishop never made.

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Australia looks forward to ... engaging in dialogue.  

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has taken the extraordinary step of writing to China’s official news agency, Xinhua, to clarify that she did not directly use the phrase "stand up to China" in an interview with Fairfax.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop. Photo: Andew Meares

Ms Bishop’s conciliatory correspondence, which did not challenge any direct quotes attributed to her, is likely to smooth the way for talks to proceed today between the highest ranking general of the People’s Liberation Army, Gen Fan Changlong, Prime Minster Tony Abbott and Australia’s top military brass.

"Australia looks forward to building on our constructive partnership with China and engaging in dialogue to build on our shared interests,” said Ms Bishop, according to a Xinhua report of her remarks. 

“On the coming visit by [by General Fan] Bishop said Australia values its defence engagement with China ‘as a means of contributing to regional stability, enhancing mutual understanding, facilitating transparency and building trust’," it said. 

An earlier Xinhua report ran under the headline 'Australia Denies Willingness to Confront China', citing Australian diplomatic channels. 

The introduction to the original Fairfax report, published last week on Thursday, said Australia would stand up to China to defend peace, liberal values and the rule of law, citing Ms Bishop.

The phrase "stand up to China" was not reported as a direct quotation. 

The report did quote Ms Bishop as saying  "China does not respect weakness” and, in the context of deepening regional security ties in response to China, “you have to hope for the best but manage for the worst”. 

The Xinhua report does not suggest that Ms Bishop denied any direct quotes as reported in the story and Ms Bishop's office has not made any queries or objections to Fairfax.

Instead, Ms Bishop’s response to Xinhua focused on opportunities for collaboration between Australia and China.

According to Xinhua:

"’Australia and China have different histories, societies and political systems, as well as differences of view on some issues. However, we are committed to managing differences constructively when they arise,’" Ms Bishop said in her written response to Xinhua's questions.

Meanwhile, Mr Abbott's comments last week about the "honour" of Japanese troops during World War II continues to attract prominent critical coverage in China. 

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