In a speech to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on Friday, Xi urged heads of state to “absolutely resist outside forces to interfere. [in] country of our region to any excuse, and hold firmly in our hands the future of development and progress of our countries ”.
His comments followed announcements by the US, UK and Australia to form a security and defense partnership, and Australia’s decision to purchase nuclear-powered submarines in the USA.
The Chinese state publication Global Times also described Australia as “a pawn of the United States” and called it “naive” for financing “America’s cold war gamble.”
“Australia could face the most dangerous consequence of being cannon fodder in the event of a military clash in the region. “
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, however, argued on Friday that China had its own “very substantial nuclear submarine construction program.”
“They have every right to make decisions in their national interests for their defense arrangements and of course Australia and all the other countries as well,” he said in an interview with 2GB radio station.
In a series of media interviews, Morrison said his government is responding to changing dynamics in the Asia-Pacific region, where territory is increasingly contested and competition is intensifying.
‘Rule of law’
Morrison said Australia was “very aware” of the capabilities of China’s nuclear submarines and the increase in military investment, he told Channel 7 Television.
“We want to make sure that international waters are always international waters and that international skies are international skies, and that the rule of law applies in all of these places as well,” he said.
Australia wanted to ensure that there were no “no-go zones” in areas governed by international law, Morrison said.
“It’s very important whether it’s for trade, whether it’s for things like submarine cables, for airplanes and where they can fly. I mean this is the order we have to preserve. This is what peace and stability foresees and this is what we seek to achieve. “
Australia’s decision also angered France, which lost an arms deal, but the main backdrop to the Australia-U.S.-U.K. alliance is the rise of the United Kingdom. China.
China has claimed most of the South China Sea territories, defying a 2016 ruling by The Hague Permanent Court of Arbitration declaring it without legal basis.
He also built man-made islands in the South China Sea and built massive runways and shipping docks, while installing missile systems on the Spratly Islands.
He rejected competing claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam in the South China Sea.
China has also imposed tough trade sanctions on a range of Australian products, widely seen in Australia as a reaction to Canberra’s opposition to Chinese investments in sensitive areas and its questioning of the origins of the COVID pandemic. 19, as well as alleged rights violations. in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
Morrison said the new defense alliance, prepared in 18 months of talks with the United States and the United Kingdom, will be permanent.
“It involves a very important commitment not only today, but forever. That’s why I call it the partnership forever. It is the one that will keep Australia safe in the future, ”he said.
Australia’s defense spending will increase, Morrison said, as the new alliance also requires increased investment in cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and underwater capabilities.
Morrison told Australian media that the defense alliance has been “well received” in its discussions so far with leaders in Japan, India, Singapore, New Zealand, Fiji and Papua New Zealand. Guinea.
The Indonesian government has said it has “cautiously” taken note of the agreement.
“Indonesia is deeply concerned about the continuation of the arms race and the projection of power in the region,” the foreign ministry added in a statement.
Speaking on a visit to Washington for talks with his US counterparts, Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton was even more dismissive of the reaction of some Chinese officials and government-backed media to the deal, calling it “counterproductive, immature and downright embarrassing”.
Dutton said Australia was ready to welcome more US Marines on rotation to the northern city of Darwin and wanted to see its air capabilities boosted.