Australia and Indonesia must push the United States and China to find an end to their trade war and build an international system that isn't about choosing between them, Penny Wong says.
The Labor frontbencher will use a speech in Jakarta to urge the US to find a "settling point" in its trade war with China, to end the uncertainty for smaller nations.
"Over the next decades neither the United States nor China will be able to exert undisputed primacy. They must be prepared to live with each other as a major power," Senator Wong will say in Jakarta on Tuesday.
"What is a realistic and workable vision of an end state or settling point?
"Defining a realistic settling point will also help the United States recognise and accept that decisions relating to China will vary depending on the issues and interests at stake.
"And it would help remind Beijing that when we make decisions that defend or assert our national interests in ways that may not reflect China's views it is not due to a 'Cold War mentality'."
Senator Wong says countries like Australia and Indonesia should take a role in defining the international system, rather than let the battle between two great powers derail it.
"We are in fact faced with a choice - but it is not the US-China binary," she says.
"The choice is this: are we simply to be spectators to the consequences of this strategic competition in our region, or do we work proactively and collectively to shape rules, norms and standards in line with our interests and values?"
The United States under President Donald Trump has abruptly withdrawn from a number of international organisations it helped build, while China is exerting its economic power on smaller nations and in the South China Sea.
"It's fair to say that many countries in the region are unclear about what precisely it is that the United States is seeking to achieve," Senator Wong says.
"Beijing too should recognise that most of us in the region are not comfortable with an authoritarian China becoming the predominant power."
Senator Wong says China is of great importance to Australia and to the world.
"We do not and should not pre-emptively frame China only as a threat. But we also recognise that China is not a democracy nor does it share our commitment to the rule of law," she says.
She urges the US and China to create a "multipolar region", in which both powers are constructively engaged and the contributions of smaller nations are respected and valued.
Australian Associated Press