backlash-after-china’s-‘concerning’-speech

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has labelled Chinese ambassador Xiao Qian’s warning that the country was ready to use all necessary measures to reunify Taiwan with China as “concerning’’.

Stressing that there was no change to Australia’s official position on Taiwan, Dr Chalmers said that Australia wanted peace and stability in the region.

In a speech to the National Press Club this week, Mr Xiao said there was no room for compromise and also agreed that some form of “re-education” of the Taiwanese people might be required.

“I think that sort of language is concerning, obviously,’’ the Treasurer told Radio National.

“And that’s because our national interests in Australia are best served by peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

“That means no unilateral change to the status quo. It means restraint and de-escalation.

“It means calm and consistent language. And from our point of view, it means working with partners in the region, to the extent that that’s possible, to deliver that stable region, that prosperous and peaceful region that we desperately need to see.”

Former Defence Secretary and ASIO Director-General Dennis Richardson told Sky News that the Chinese Ambassador’s address was consistent with the more assertive and aggressive tone out of Beijing.

“I think it’s a clear signal that China’s ultimate intention, which they’ve made clear for decades, is the reunification of Taiwan with China,” Mr Richardson told Sky News Australia.

“And they’re prepared to do that by military means if necessary.”

Mr Richardson also said US Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan was “unnecessary”.

“It was driven as much by US domestic politics with the mid-terms coming up as it was by her genuine and longstanding concern for human rights,’’ he said.

“I think it made the US Biden administration look weak, as it was clear the visit was against the wishes of the President.”

Opposition leader Peter Dutton has stressed that Australia must be “very frank’’ about the risks in the region.

He reiterated that he supported Australia’s One China policy.

“I support this situation as it is at the moment,’’ Mr Dutton said. ‘’I don’t support independence. I don’t support breaking away. I respect China’s position in relation to Taiwan, but I don’t want to see conflict.

“I mean, you’ve just got to cut through their propaganda and look at the message, and the clear messages are very concerning.

“I think we should bolster our defences. There will be a price to pay if there was an attack on our country, and the second thing is we should have strong ties with our allies, United States, United Kingdom and Japan.

“It’s the actions of the Chinese communist party under President Xi and that’s what needs to be called out.

“Nobody should be surprised by China’s actions if there is an incursion or conflict.’’

Rejecting the word invasion and arguing Taiwan should be peacefully reunited with “the Motherland”, the Chinese ambassador to Australia suggested Australians “use their imagination” about what that means.

“First, I would rather not use the word “invasion” when we talk about China and Taiwan,’’ the Chinese ambassador said.

“Taiwan is different from any other scenario or situation.

“Taiwan is not an independent state. It’s not an independent state. Taiwan is a province of the People’s Republic of China.

“It’s an issue of reunification, complete reunification, and the issue of Taiwan coming back to the motherland.

“China has been so patient for several decades. We are waiting for a peaceful unification.”

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