Australia's monumental deal with the United States to attain nuclear-powered submarines will make the country's safety in the region "less secure" amid rising tensions with China, a former ambassador has warned.
The swift overnight announcement in September secured the delivery of eight submarines by 2040 using the US's top-secret nuclear technology.
But the fallout from nations "betrayed", or threatened, by the deal have marred any celebration as diplomatic relations worsen between China and Australia.
Dr Geoff Raby, who was Australia's ambassador to China between 2007 and 2011, said the deal had undone a lot of the work diplomats had achieved in earlier decades with our regional neighbours.
"It's a complete break with the direction of Australian foreign policy over the past 30 years or longer, which was for us to find our security in Asia, not from Asia," Dr Raby said.
"We have glued ourselves to the hip of the United States and defined our security interests, our national interests, as being exactly the same as those of the United States when it comes to China."
A much more skillful approach to democracy was needed when it came to China, he said in the Australia Institute's Follow the Money podcast released on Wednesday.
"There's no leadership other than stunts," he said.
"I think that's the problem. Australia could find itself like a shag on a rock if the US substantially resets its relations with China."
The comments come after former prime minister Tony Abbott last Friday made a visit to Taiwan in support of the country's independence, angering Chinese authorities who strongly support the "one-China" principle.
In his keynote address, he also criticised China on its human rights record and military aggression in the region.
"[China has] boosted cyber spying on its own citizens, cancelled popular personalities in favour of a cult of the red emperor, brutalised Indian soldiers in the Himalayas, coerced other claimants in its eastern seas and flown ever more intimidatory sorties against Taiwan," Mr Abbott said in the Taiwanese capital last week.
The Chinese embassy in Canberra lashed out against the former prime minister's comments, calling him a "failed and pitiful politician" in a statement on Tuesday.
"His recent despicable and insane performance in Taiwan fully exposed his hideous anti-China features," the embassy spokesperson said.
"This will only further discredit him."
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