Former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has delivered his second warning to Anthony Albanese about the risks surrounding his upcoming trip to China.
Mr. Morrison said the Chinese Communist Party could use the trip and spin the narrative to suggest a “backdown” by the Australian government.
“They will describe it how they will describe it, internally and more broadly. And that's not something one would ever have control over.”
It comes before Mr. Morrison’s visit to Taiwan on Oct. 11-12 for the Yushan Forum, where former Prime Minister Tony Abbott called Beijing a “bully” two years ago.
Mr. Morrison said speaking at the forum was an opportunity for international engagement in Taiwan, which he described as “totemic” to the peace and security of the entire Indo-Pacific.
“I think it’s really important that I go there and express support, but do so in a practical way,” Mr. Morrison said.
“Because [Taiwan] is the one issue that if not handled well, poses significant threats to the region. But that has to be secured through strength, not appeasement.”
Second WarningPreviously, in the Coalition party room, Mr. Morrison raised concerns about the current Labor government’s “acquiescent and concessional approach” towards Beijing, particularly its “keenness” to restore relations.
"Scott told us he continued to be proud at how his government stood up to China and that other countries followed our lead."
Former Defence Minister Kevin Andrews agreed with Mr. Morrison’s message, similarly warning the Labor prime minister that the CCP propaganda machine could kick into action and paint Mr. Albanese’s trip as Australian “independence” from U.S. influence.
“Any messages about human rights, if delivered by the prime minister, will be neglected by the state media.”
The CCP stopped all diplomatic communications and started an unofficial trade war with the former Morrison government in retaliation for its tough-on-CCP policies, including demanding an independent investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The diplomatic freeze thawed after the Albanese Labor government came to power.
Mr. Morrison's warnings come after Mr. Albanese accepted an invitation from Beijing to visit before the end of the year.
While exact dates have not been set, it is expected to fall near the end of October to mark 50 years since the first diplomatic trip to China by an Australian prime minister, the Labor Party's Gough Whitlam.
Unravelling Trade SanctionsBeijing has slowly lifted various trade tariffs placed on Australian goods, such as barley, timber, and coal, yet many remain.
Mr. Albanese has maintained that while his government would try to lift the trade barriers and was willing to work cooperatively with Beijing, that did not mean he was willing to compromise on Australian values and its national interests.
In August, Mr. Albanese said the next time he met Chinese Leader Xi Jinping he would push for the removal of the remaining trade impediments.
He noted that the removal of barley tariffs corresponded to $900 million in exports, which was a “big win” for Australian farmers and jobs.
“We want to see these removed, in the best interests of everyone.
“And I’ll certainly be taking the opportunity to make that point when I next have the chance to meet with President Xi.”
Meanwhile, the Chinese economy has been under significant pressure as it confronts challenges across the board, including skyrocketing youth unemployment, a collapsing real estate market, and floods destroying vast areas of farmland.