Australia says China’s actions run counter to peace rhetoric Politics news

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The defense minister says there is a “significant link” between what China says and what it does.

China’s “alarming” actions are not in line with its rhetoric to promote peace and prosperity in the region, Australia’s defense minister said on Friday after a Chinese naval vessel was tracked sailing through the country’s exclusive economic zone.

Secretary of Defense Peter Dutton listed China militarization of the South China Sea, recent aggression against Taiwan and the introduction of national security law in Hong Kong as an example where China’s actions failed with its rhetoric.

“We are all familiar with the common claims of the Chinese government that it is committed to peace, cooperation and development,” Dutton said in a speech in Canberra.

“And yet we are witnessing a significant link between words and deeds. We have seen very carefully when the Chinese government has engaged in increasingly alarming activities.”

The Chinese embassy in Canberra said Dutton had distorted China’s foreign policy, misled the Australian people and “incited conflicts and divisions between peoples and nations”.

“It is inconceivable that the relationship between China and Australia will pick up speed … if the Australian Government bases its national strategy on such a visionless analysis and outdated mentality,” it said in a statement.

Relations between the two countries reached a nadir in 2020 when Canberra supported a UN inquiry into the origins of covid-19, which first appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan two years ago.

Dutton referred to China’s increasingly confident claims in the South China Sea where it has blocked the Philippines within the Southeast Asian nation’s own economic zone [File: Jay Director/AFP]

China responded by suspending ministerial contacts and impose heavy tariffs on Australian exports of wine, barley, beef, coal and shellfish, effectively repealing a 2015 free trade agreement Australia and its allied United States labeled the move as “economic coercion”.

Dutton’s comments came when Australia confirmed that it had monitored a Chinese intelligence vessel sailing in August within Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) but not in Australian territorial waters.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the ship – the second of its kind to be monitored off the Australian coast in as many months – was traveling legally.

“But do not think for a second that we did not keep an eye on them, because they were trying to keep an eye on us,” Morrison told reporters in Adelaide.

“What it shows is that no one can now be complacent about the situation in the Indo-Pacific.”

In September, a new security pact was dubbed between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom AUKUS, was widely seen as an attempt to support regional military muscle in the face of China’s growing presence. China has called AUKUS a danger to world peace.

China has also tensed its muscles in the South China Sea, with its Coast Guard vessels this month shoot water cannon at a Philippine delivery ship within the Southeast Asian nation’s economic zone at the Second Thomas Shoal and blocking access. It has also demanded that the Philippines remove a military outpost there – and claims that the shoal is its territory.

Manila has refused and noted that a ruling from 2016 by a UN-backed arbitration tribunal rejected China’s claim to almost the entire sea below its controversial nine-dashed line.


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