Scott Morrison calls on the United States and China to dial down hostilities in speech at UK think tank Policy Exchange
By foreign affairs reporter Stephen Dziedzic
Posted 3hhours ago
The Prime Minister urges the United States and China to show more "latitude" to smaller nations, saying Australia does not want to be forced into a "binary choice" between either superpower.
The Prime Minister has urged the United States and China to show more "latitude" to smaller nations, warning that partners and allies need "a bit more room to move" as strategic competition intensifies in the region.
- Scott Morrison has called on US and China to dial down hostilities
- He said recent actions in Australia were not part of a strategic campaign to contain China
- Mr Morrison also said the victory of Democrat Joe Biden might ease tensions between China and the United States
China's Government has recently ratcheted up criticism of Australia and hit several exports with trade sanctions, accusing the Federal Government of unfairly blocking Chinese investment and smearing China with false accusations of espionage and foreign interference.
But the Prime Minister said Australia's actions were not part of a strategic campaign to contain China and said the contest between the incumbent and rising powers "heavily clouded and distorted" Beijing's views.
"Our actions are wrongly seen and interpreted by some only through the lens of the strategic competition between China and the United States," Mr Morrison said.
Mr Morrison urged both the US and China not to force nations into a corner."It's as if Australia does not have its own unique interests or views as an independent sovereign state. This is false and needlessly deteriorates relationships."
"If we are to avoid a new era of polarisation, then in the decades ahead, there must be a more nuanced appreciation of individual states' interests in how they deal with the major powers," he said.
"Stark choices are in no-one's interests. Greater latitude will be required from the world's largest powers to accommodate the individual interests of their partners and allies.
"We all need a bit more room to move."
Recently China's government has refused to phone take calls from a string of Australian Ministers, while releasing a list of complaints about Australia's behaviour.(ABC News: GFX/Jarrod Fankhauser)
The Prime Minister also said international institutions would play a vital role as "circuit breakers" which could function as a "bulwark against any further divide."
And he stressed that liberal democracies like Australia and the United Kingdom would have to "work together in common cause" to maintain peace, stability and open markets.
Mr Morrison's speech will be viewed as a repudiation of the Trump administration's sharpest polemics against China and an attempt to reset Australia's increasingly poisonous relationships with Beijing.
China's Government has refused to phone take calls from a string of Australian ministers, while releasing a long list of complaints about Australia's behaviour.
The Prime Minister said Australia was "very open" to a discussion about China's grievances.
But he chided Beijing for refusing to communicate, saying the "lines have to remain open … particularly when there are disagreements and misunderstandings."
And in his most frank comments to date on the US election, the Prime Minister also said the victory of Democrat president-elect Joe Biden might ease tensions between China and the United States."Unfortunately at the moment, in our own relationship, those lines of communications are not as we'd like them to be — but that is not of Australia's doing," he said.
"Perhaps the atmospherics of that relationship will change, following the most recent election," he said.
China's latest move straight from its punishment playbook
The Morrison Government seems to be betting that all it needs to do is hold its nerve and hold the line when it comes to China's trade threats, writes Stephen Dziedzic.
Mr Morrison also played down the need for sweeping changes to the global economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemics.
He also said the economic chaos was caused by the "economic meteor" of COVID-19 and failings in the global public health system rather than "structural weaknesses in our global economy".
"Nor is the pandemic recession the product of the failure of world capitalism or liberal, free market-based values," Mr Morrison said.
"It is actually these values that have provided the platform for the greatest period of peace and prosperity the world has ever known and has underpinned the very global institutions that has helped sustain it.
"It is these values that must now drive our economic recovery out of the pandemic recession. We don't need to 'reset' our economic agenda, we just need to get on with it."
Posted 3hhours ago