CANNEBRA: Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said that Australia could fall out of the world’s top 20 economies; it is projected to be overtaken by Indonesia, Pakistan and Thailand.

Speaking at an event in Australian Institute of International Affairs in Canberra, the minister said while the US would be the “only global superpower into the foreseeable future”, in the next 10 years – the time covered by the forthcoming foreign affairs white paper – Asia’s combined military spending would match the US’s.

Australian Opposition leader Penny Wong speaking to the event said Australia does not “fully know” how an increasingly assertive China will use its power, pledging to safeguard Australia’s sovereignty while accepting China as a global player.

“China is becoming more assertive, and more inclined not only to demand a place at the table, but also a say in which table and what design,” she said.

Wong said that Australia should work with China “to encourage it to play the positive role it is capable of in supporting and furthering regional stability and security”.

Wong said Australia must afford China the “priority it merits”, including by not remaining “defiantly monolingual”, instead committing to ramp up study of Mandarin.

Wong encouraged greater integration of economic and security policy, noting that China’s belt and road initiative was an example where assessment purely on strategic implications could see Australia “missing out on its potential” but a “purely economic approach ignores our own strategic interests”.