Australia repeats China air zone concerns after rebuke

BEIJING - Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop defied a stern rebuke from Beijing on Saturday to repeat concerns that China's recently announced air defence zone has increased regional tensions.

"Australia is concerned about peace and stability in our region, and we don't want to see any escalation of tensions, we want to see a de-escalation," she told reporters in Beijing when asked about Australia's stance on China's Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ).

Her remarks came after China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday reproached Bishop for Australia's critical stance on the ADIZ, which China announced last month and covers islands in the East China Sea which are claimed by Beijing and Tokyo.

Wang accused Australia of "jeopardising bilateral mutual trust," and said that, "the entire Chinese society and the general public are deeply dissatisfied," with Australia's comments, Australian broadcaster ABC reported.

Bishop dismissed suggestions that the ADIZ dispute had damaged relations, and said that negotiations on issues including a free trade deal between the two countries had been "productive."

She added that she had raised human rights issues during her meeting with Wang, but did not give details.

Australia last month summoned China's ambassador to voice opposition to the ADIZ, joining the US, the EU, Japan and South Korea who also criticised it.

Beijing blasted the move, demanding that Canberra "immediately correct its mistake," while warning that ties could be hurt.

But Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott remained defiant, saying Canberra would speak out where Australian interests were concerned.

China is Australia's biggest trading partner and Abbott has said he is pushing for Australia to sign a free trade deal with the Asian giant.

Washington remains Canberra's key ally, and Bishop previously said the new government intended to keep Japan as its "best friend" in Asia, as it works on relations with China.

Australia is not seen as a major player in east Asian territorial disputes.