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‘World is looking’: Fresh warning to China over Ukraine

Foreign Minister Penny Wong has urged China to use its influence for good and help put an end to the invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking from Singapore on Wednesday evening, Senator Wong took aim at China over its refusal so far to condemn Russia’s actions.

“The region and the world is now looking at Beijing’s actions in relation to Ukraine,” she said.

China has attempted to remain impartial on the conflict, however more recently officials including President Xi Jinping have spoken out against western sanctions against Russia.

The country’s refusal to condemn the invasion while others including Australia, the US and Europe have been vocal in doing so threatens to deepen divisions.

China’s position has also raised concerns regarding its plans for smaller territories such as Taiwan, which some fear may become the target of military action in the future.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong told China “the world is looking” over its stance on Ukraine. NCA Newswire/ Andrew Taylor
Camera IconAustralian Foreign Minister Penny Wong told China “the world is looking” over its stance on Ukraine. NCA Newswire/ Andrew Taylor Credit: NCA NewsWire

Senator Wong condemned the precedent Russia was setting by invading Ukraine and urged China to do the same.

“Russia’s actions are an assertion that might should be right,” she said.

“That a larger country is entitled to invade and subjugate a smaller neighbour – to decide whether another country can even exist.

“We can all agree that such behaviour must not be normalised.”

Last month, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese received backlash from Chinese state media for suggesting Beijing take note of the resistance displayed by Ukraine while considering its own its ambitions in Taiwan.

Treading more lightly, Senator Wong played to China’s growing strength and influence to urge a change in stance.

“It is especially important for countries that play leading roles in international fora, and countries with influence on Russia, to exert their influence to end this war,” she said.

“This includes China, as a great power, a Permanent Member of the Security Council, and with its ‘no limits partnership’ with Russia.”

“Exerting such influence would do a great deal to build confidence in our own region.”

She also quoted former Prime Minister Paul Keating and long-term Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in calling for China to show restraint with its new level of international influence.

The quote, taken from a 2013 speech by Mr Keating read:

“As [China]… steps up to a larger leadership role it will at the same time need to be willing to accept and respect restraints on the way it uses its immense strength, because the acceptance of such restraints by great powers is the key to any successful and durable international order.”

More recently Mr Lee said.

“To grow its international influence beyond… military strength, China needs to wield this strength with restraint and legitimacy.”

Senator Wong will attend a meeting of G20 ministers in Bali this week including her counterparts from the US, China and Russia.

With the world’s attention soon to be focused on Australia’s closest neighbour, Senator Wong noted the influence all Indo-Pacific countries have, beyond the perceived struggle for dominance by the world’s superpowers.

“We are more than just supporting players in a grand drama of global geopolitics, on a stage dominated by great powers,” she said.

“It is up to all of us to create the kind of region we aspire to – a stable, peaceful, prosperous and secure region.”

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