Australian PM explains refusal to meet China’s envoy — Analysis

It would be a sign of “weakness” after Beijing’s suspension of minister-to-minister talks, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said

Scott Morrison declined to meet with China’s new ambassador to Australia earlier this month because it would have been a sign of “weakness” after Beijing suspended ministerial engagement, the prime minister has explained.

Earlier this week, local media reported that Morrison had recently declined a formal request for a meeting from China’s new envoy, Xiao Qian.

“So long as China continues to refuse to have dialogue with Australian ministers and the prime minister, I think that’s an entirely proportional response,”Morrison spoke as he told journalists his decision on Saturday.

“That would be a demonstration of weakness and I can assure you as prime minister that’s the last message I’d ever send to China,”He insisted.

Beijing is blocking minister-to–minister contact “Australians would see it as very inappropriate for me to engage in that dialogue with an ambassador,”According to the prime minister.

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Xiao ended up meeting with Marise, the Australian Foreign Minister. Although this did not lead to any diplomatic breakthroughs, it was still the highest-profile meeting in nearly two years between the Pacific rivals.

During meetings with private-sector officials in the last weeks, the Ambassador relayed a message from Chinese President Xi Jinping for the Australian authorities: “Australia has been treating China like the enemy. Australia has to decide whether it is China’s enemy or China’s friend.”

Canberra may find it difficult to make this decision, given recent leaked security agreements between China, Solomon Islands and Australia. These could see Beijing establish a naval station in Oceania. Morrison stated that the project was of. “great concern across the Pacific family.”

Australia has a strong presence in Solomon Islands and provides security and financial assistance. The Australian military and police are set to remain in the country until December 2023 after being deployed there in 2019 to help quell riots that were provoked by the local government’s decision to switch diplomatic ties from Taiwan to Beijing.

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Canberra recently condemned Beijing’s use of its “chilling silence”Concerning Russia’s military operations in Ukraine and the refusal of Moscow to implement any type of sanctions.

Meanwhile, China has been angered by Australia’s participation in the AUKUS deal with the US and the UK, which was announced last year and is aimed at arming Canberra with a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.

In 2020, relations between Australia and China took a bad turn. Australia demanded a worldwide investigation into Covid-19’s origins and spread. Beijing responded to Australia’s request for a global probe into the origins and spread of the pandemic.

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