Julie Bishop in balancing act after colleague criticises China’s Pacific aid

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Foreign minister careful not to disagree with spirit of Fierravanti-Wells’s point while moving to calm a heated situation

Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, has attempted to walk back criticism of China’s Pacific aid program by one of her ministerial colleagues, after Beijing labelled Concetta Fierravanti-Wells’s intervention as “nothing but irresponsible”.

In her first statement since Fierravanti-Wells, the international development minister, criticised China for building “white elephant” infrastructure projects in Pacific nations, Bishop was careful not to disagree with the spirit of her colleague’s point.

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