Richard Marles says he won’t be drawn into “chest beating” on China as tensions over Taiwan continue to escalate.
Instead, the Acting Prime Minister has reiterated his call for calm in the Taiwan Strait after Beijing launched military drills following Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.
“What we obviously want to see is a return to normal peaceful behaviour around the Taiwan Strait … we have got to get back to that normal peaceful set of behaviours,” Mr Marles said.
Beijing fired 11 ballistic missiles over and near Taiwan following the US House Speaker’s visit to the self ruled island China claims as its own last week.
After five years in the diplomatic deep freeze, there had been hope that Labor’s election could see relations between Canberra and Beijing thaw.
China’s Ambassador to Australia, Xiao Qian, last week said there would be “no compromise” on Taiwan, urging the new government to tread with caution.
But Mr Marles said that didn’t mean the government wasn’t going to stop speaking out on issues of regional stability.
“We acknowledge that there are going to be challenges in the relationship with China,” he told Sky News on Sunday.
“What we have sought to do is really change the tone in the way in which we are engaging with the world but that includes the way in which we engage with China. We’re not going about things with chest beating.
“We did want to save the relationship and in a better place, but we’ll continue to articulate our national interest.”
Australia’s commitment to the One China policy is bipartisan but opposition leader Peter Dutton on Friday warned we should not make the same mistakes with China as Europe did with Russia.
“There’s no sense in a couple of months or a couple of years‘ time saying Chinese have gone into Taiwan, we didn’t see this coming,” Mr Dutton said on Friday.
“We’re right in shining a huge spotlight on the behaviour, calling it out … If we do that, that gives us the best chance of keeping peace in our region.