PM refuses to back down to China over leaked dossier of 'grievances'

Darnell Taylor
November 19, 2020

Australia's relations with China have deteriorated after Australian allegations of Chinese meddling in its affairs and calls for an worldwide inquiry into the source of the coronavirus, first identified in China nearly a year ago.

The leaked list and comments by Mr Zhao signal a significant tactical shift from Beijing.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (R) greets his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison at the premier's office in Tokyo on November 17, 2020.

Both countries have agreed "in-principle" on a defence pact which will strengthen military cooperation amid rising tensions with China.

The leaders of Japan and Australia said Tuesday they will bolster bilateral defense cooperation, agreeing in principle on a "landmark" pact to facilitate joint exercises as the key USA allies in Asia seek to counter China's growing influence.

The Chinese Embassy's decision to hand the list to the media seems created to ratchet up the pressure on Australia to make concessions on key issues.

The Suga-Morrison encounter followed Sunday's signing of a major free trade pact, spanning 15 Asian-Pacific nations, including China and Australia, which relies on selling iron ore and coal to Beijing to fill its coffers. "I think it adds to the stability of the region, which is a good thing".

The minister said Australia had reached out at every possible level to make contact with Chinese authorities.

"We need to keep that strong relationship with China going".

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That naval drill, code-named "Malabar", was centered on India's Vikramaditya naval carrier group and the U.S. navy's Nimitz carrier group, said India's Defense Ministry.

BHP chief executive Mike Henry told The Australian's Strategic Forum on Wednesday that Australia was an export dependent economy. "Australia simply isn't built to succeed under this model", he said.

"We'll continue to be ourselves".

The 14 items identified by the Chinese embassy document are seen by the Department of Foreign Affairs as key to Australia's national interest and non-negotiable, leaving the two countries facing the prospect of an extended diplomatic and economic dispute.

He said the region benefited from China being economically involved in the Indo-Pacific, but respecting the sovereignty of Australia and other countries.

"The Australian government is always ready to talk directly in a constructive fashion about Australia's relationship with China, including about our differences, and to do so directly between our political leaders".

The Federal Government believes the complaints are unreasonable and misrepresent Australia's position.

In an interview with Seven Network's Sunrise program, Morrison said: "Having a free media, having parliamentarians elected and able to speak their minds is a cause for concern, as well as speaking up on human rights in concert with other countries like Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and others in global forums, if this is the cause for tension in that relationship, then it would seem that the tension is that Australia is just being Australia".

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