Beijing’s Words of Peace Don’t Match ‘Alarming’ Deeds: Australian Defence Minister

By Caden Pearson
Caden Pearson
Caden Pearson
Caden Pearson is a reporter based in Australia, with a background in screenwriting and documentary. Contact him at caden.pearson@epochtimes.com.au
November 27, 2021 Updated: November 27, 2021

Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton has highlighted the difference between Beijing’s words and deeds, saying the world has witnessed and grown concerned by the Communist regime’s pattern of “alarming” activities.

“By now we are all familiar with the frequent claims of the Chinese government that it is committed to peace, cooperation, and development,” Dutton said in his address to the National Press Club Friday, adding that “win-win cooperation” and “progress” are common Chinese regime refrains.

“And yet we bear witness to a significant disconnect between words and actions, between the rhetoric and reality,” he said.

That reality, Dutton said, is that the Chinese regime is “regrettably” using its power in security, trade, economics, media, and the internet to compel countries to comply with its demands.

Dutton warned that, in the absence of counter pressure, Beijing would dominate the Indo-Pacific region which has made Australia prosperous and safe if China invaded Taiwan and then sought to expand further.

“If Taiwan is taken, surely the Senkakus are next,” Dutton said.

“Please don’t rely on your imagination. The Chinese government could not be any clearer; not always with their words, but certainly with their actions,” he said.

The point I make is the regional order on which our prosperity and security is founded would change very quickly.

The defence minister outlined some of Beijing’s “alarming” actions, which contradict their words.

This included establishing 20 outposts in the South China Sea and rejecting the Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration 2016 verdict on claims of historic rights in the same sea.

He pointed to China’s People’s Liberation Army sending increasing numbers of military jets into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, and using militia-crewed fishing vessels to intrude in The Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. As well as escalating tensions on China’s border with India and in the East China Sea with Japan.

Other actions in the Asia region included Beijing doing away with the “solemn international commitment of the ‘One Country Two Systems’ framework” when it imposed a national security law on Hong Kong, Dutton said.

Turning to Australia-China matters, the defence minister pointed to the trade barriers Beijing inflicted on Australian imports, which he said undermined collective faith in China’s commitment to global free trade and investment. This has widely been considered economic coercion in retaliation for Australia calling for an inquiry into the origins of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease.

Dutton also noted the “fabrication of a propaganda image depicting an Australian soldier murdering an Afghan child,” and the Chinese embassy in Canberra issuing a dossier of 14 disputes with Australia, that he described as, “a list of grievances which imply our nation should refrain from making sovereign decisions and acting in its self-interest.”

Further, Dutton said Australia and many other countries had called out Beijing’s Ministry of State Security in July for engaging in repeated cyber activities against foreign government and commercial institutions.

Earlier this year, CCP mouthpiece Global Times published an editorial that suggested China would fire missiles at Australia if it intervened in a conflict in Taiwan.

In his speech, Dutton said China has amassed more than 2,000 ground-launched ballistic missiles and ground-launched cruise missiles, with a range of up to 5,500 kilometres. Its nuclear warhead stockpile is projected to reach 700 and 1,000 warheads over the next decade.

“Every major city in Australia, including Hobart, is within range of China’s missiles,” Dutton said.

Australia is in the middle of heightened strategic competition in the Indo-Pacific region, but at a time when the signs are pointing towards conflict, Dutton said “all countries of goodwill” must steer away from that cliff face.

“Australia’s position is clear: conflict must be avoided,” he said.

In response, the Chinese embassy in Australia accused Dutton of preaching an unrealistic “misunderstanding of China’s foreign policy.”

Their statement claimed the China-Australia relationship would not improve if the Australian government did not change its policies.

Caden Pearson is a reporter based in Australia, with a background in screenwriting and documentary. Contact him at caden.pearson@epochtimes.com.au