Australia has traditionally relied on two diplomatic strategies in its attempts to 'engage' Asia. The first has been to couch engagement diplomacy within broader global trends and developments, such as the response to the communist threat during the Cold War or the general move towards the 'new regionalism' after the Cold War. The second strategy has been a dogged prudentialism, building on shared (usually commercial) interests. The shortcomings of both strategies became apparent in the lead up to the 2005 East Asia Summit, during which Australia faced a diplomatic exclusion not as the specific policy choice of another country, but as the unintended by-product of rivalries among Asia's great powers. That the success or otherwise of Australia's regional engagement will be shaped by such rivalries in future was reinforced by the sensitivities aroused over the Prime Minister's trip to China in 2008. Perhaps the bigger lesson is that Asia's rivalries are no longer sub-sets of global dynamics. We may be entering an era in which Asia's rivalries drive broader global dynamics, which in turn will pose severe challenges for Australia's regional diplomacy.