Former Prime Minister Paul Keating says he believes China’s “overarching policy objective” was to keep the Americans away from its border.

Echoing the thoughts of former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Mr Keating said China does not have a “military based policy designed to achieve military domination” but to maintain its territory.

“Until not many years ago, the US Pacific Fleet drove 12 miles off the edge of the Chinese territorial sea on the Chinese continental shelf,” Mr Keating said.

“Could you imagine the attitude of the United States if the Chinese blue water navy was sailing 12 miles off the territorial sea of California? There’d be outrage everywhere.”

Mr Keating said China had been “pushing the American fleet off their coast” broadly to maintain their interests in the west, which they seek “partly to increase their strategic power”.

He also said China was heading into the west via Pakistan and Kazakhstan with the Belt and Road Initiative, which would make China the “main influence” everywhere between Wuhan and Istanbul and push newer technologies into those areas.

Mr Keating said the Australian public debate was not getting a “macro view” of what China was doing as it was “informed by the security agencies”.

“Chinas wants its front doorstop, and its front porch – that is Taiwan, its sea – it doesn’t want American naval forces influencing,” he said.

“It wants access out of its coast into the deeper waters of the Mariana trench in the Pacific; that’s what it’s about fundamentally.”

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