Australia says China’s actions at odds with rhetoric of peace

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Defense minister says there is a ‘significant relationship’ between what China says and what it does.

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China’s “dangerous” action does not match its rhetoric about promoting peace and prosperity in the region, Australia’s defense minister said on Friday after a Chinese Navy ship sailed through the country’s exclusive economic zone. was tracked.

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Defense Minister Peter Dutton listed China’s militarization of the South China Sea, recent aggression towards Taiwan and the introduction of national security legislation in Hong Kong as examples where China’s actions failed to match its rhetoric.

“We are all aware of the Chinese government’s persistent claims that it is committed to peace, cooperation and development,” Dutton said in a speech in Canberra.

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“And yet we witness a significant disconnect between words and actions. We have watched very closely as the Chinese government engages in increasingly dangerous activities.”

The Chinese embassy in Canberra said Dutton had distorted China’s foreign policy, misled the Australian people and was “promoting conflict and division between peoples and nations”.

“It is inconceivable that China-Australia relations will gain a good momentum…

Relations between the two countries reached a nadir in 2020 when Canberra backed a UN investigation into the origins of COVID-19, which first emerged two years ago in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Dutton referred to China’s rapidly growing claims in the South China Sea where it has blocked the Philippines within its EEZ of the Southeast Asian country. [File: Jay Director/AFP]

China cut off ministerial contacts and effectively scrapped a 2015 free trade agreement by imposing heavy tariffs on Australian exports of wine, barley, beef, coal and seafood. Australia and its ally the United States called the move “economic coercion”.

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

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the ship – the second to be patrolled off the Australian coast in so many months – was traveling legally.

“But don’t think for a moment that we weren’t watching them, because they wanted to keep an eye on us,” Morrison told reporters in Adelaide.

“What this demonstrates is that no one can be satisfied about the situation in the Indo-Pacific anymore.”

In September, a new security agreement between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, called AUKUS, was widely seen as an attempt to shore up regional military might in the face of China’s growing presence. China has called Aukas a threat to world peace.

China is also flexing its muscles in the South China Sea, this month with its Coast Guard ships firing water cannon and blocking access to a Philippines supply ship within the Southeast Asian country’s EEZ in the second Thomas Shoal. It has also called for the Philippines to remove a military post there – claiming the shoal is its territory.

Manila has refused, noting that a 2016 ruling by a UN-backed arbitration court rejected China’s claim over nearly the entire sea under its controversial nine-dash line.

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