Australia-China relations: US, allies ‘acquiesced and allowed’ China’s South China Sea expansion, Australian minister says

Australia-China relations: US, allies ‘acquiesced and allowed’ China’s South China Sea expansion, Australian minister says

08-Feb-2022 Intellasia |
South China Morning Post |
5:02 AM

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The US and its allies need to push back harder against China after they “acquiesced and allowed” Beijing to expand its footprint in the South China Sea over the past decade, Australia’s Defence minister Peter Dutton said.

“If we continue on that trajectory, then I think we’ll lose the next decade,” Dutton said in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald published on Monday. “And my sense is that we’re better off being honest about that.”

Dutton’s comments come ahead of a planned meeting this month in Australia of the Quad security partnership, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken set to attend along with counterparts from Japan and India. The four-nation group has met more frequently as it looks to counter China’s rise in the region.

China has increased its control over the South China Sea over the past decade, building artificial structures on disputed territory and sending large ships to prevent neighbouring countries from extracting fish and energy from the seas.

In the interview, Dutton did not elaborate on what more the US and its allies could do in the waters to deter China. He also said he had “no doubt” Australia would have its own nuclear-powered submarine by 2038, under the Aukus agreement with the US and the UK announced last year.

Meanwhile, Australia’s opposition leader Anthony Albanese told The Sydney Morning Herald that Canberra needs to respond to Beijing in a way that is strong but also diplomatic, toughening his stance on China in the lead up to the 2022 elections.

The Chinese government’s “posture in the region” had changed in recent years and is responsible for the worsening relationship with Australia, Albanese, the centre-left Labour Party leader, said in an interview.

“It’s a difficult relationship, but it’s an important one. China deserves credit for lifting literally hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. But they also deserve to be called out for their failures on human rights,” he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

Albanese said a future Labour government would work with Australia’s Indo-Pacific partners and the Biden administration to ensure the region remained stable and secure.

An election is due to be held in Australia before May. Although Labour is leading the public opinion surveys so far in Australia, Albanese is less popular than prime minister Scott Morrison of the Liberal-National coalition.

In the past, the Labour leader had been critical of the Australian government’s handling of the relationship with Beijing, saying there needed to be “more strategy and less politics” in managing the two countries’ differences.

https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/australasia/article/3166085/australia-china-relations-us-allies-acquiesced-and-allowed?module=perpetual_scroll_0&pgtype=article&campaign=3166085

Category: China

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This is not a CAPTIS article. Originally, it was published here.