Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton rebuked as “comical” the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s warning that Australia should refrain from doing anything “destructive” to the Australia–China relationship.
Dutton described the comments of the CCP’s acting Ambassador to Australia Wang Xining as “so silly it’s funny.”
Wang called Australia the “naughty guy” in an interview with The Guardian about the AUKUS submarine deal, saying it jeopardises Australia’s peace-loving reputation and that Australians “should be more worried.”
The acting ambassador also said Australia would be branded as a “sabre wielder” rather than a “peace defender” as a result of the submarine plan, which would also affect the nuclear non-proliferation system.
The diplomat called on Australia to “refrain from doing anything destructive” to the two countries’ relationship after Dutton said Australia should join the United States in aiding Taiwan if there is a conflict with Beijing.
The comments by the CCP official come after the defence minister spoke out numerous times on China over the last two weeks.
Appearing in the Sky News documentary, “China Rising,” Dutton spoke about Australia’s decision to push back against the CCP interference in Australia and noted that national security agencies had managed to collect huge amounts of data on the Chinese regime’s activities, which was they then confirmed through evidence.
“Clearly we receive intelligence and we have formed judgments over a period of time, which have been backed up by the evidence,” Dutton said. “I think people would be quite staggered by the amount of intelligence, and the very clear direction that China is now taking.
Dutton went on to explain that although the Australian government had earned the ire of the Chinese regime in 2018 when the Morrison government decided to ban Chinese telcos Huawei and ZTE from participating in Australia’s 5G network.
Dutton admitted the move had aggravated the CCP, but he stressed it was “absolutely the right decision to take” for our country.
Dutton also told The Australian last week: “It would be inconceivable that we wouldn’t support the U.S. in an action if the U.S. chose to take that action.”
Wang also labelled former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s visit last month to Taiwan, the self-ruled island which the CCP claims as its own, as “very unfortunate.”
Dutton shrugged off Wang’s warning as “comical.”
“This provocative sort of comical statements—really, it’s so silly it’s funny,” Dutton told the Nine Network on Friday.
“We don’t see [this] from any other ambassador here in Australia. It’s quite remarkable.”
“Most Australians see through the non-productive nature of the comments and they should be dismissed in that vein.”
The comments come after Dutton said Australia will stand with its allies against the CCP to protect freedom and peace in the Indo-Pacific region.
“We are going to stand up for what we believe in and stand with our partners including the United States to make sure there is prevailing peace in our region,” he told 2GB radio on Thursday.
“This is the conduct of the Communist Party of China. We’re not dealing with a democratic regime. We’re not dealing with somebody who plays by the international rules and we see that every day in the East China Sea.”
The relationship between Australia and China has been at a low point ever since Australia asked to investigate the origin of COVID-19 in early 2020, with Australian exports, including coal, beef, barely, lobster, timber, and wine caught up amid Beijing’s politically motivated trade war.
American President Joe Biden said last month that the United States has a “commitment” to defend Taiwan if China attacks. However, the administration later walked back on Biden’s comments about defending Taiwan, replacing it with toned-down, ambiguous support of the island.
“President Biden underscored his commitment to the One China Policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the Three Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances,” said White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan over Biden’s first virtual summit with CCP leader Xi Jinping this week.
“[Biden] understands deeply, first-hand, that the Act makes clear that any effort to shape Taiwan’s future by other than peaceful means, is of grave concern to the United States.”