South China Sea: China accuses Australia of blindly following US

In a strongly worded piece, Global Times, widely seen as the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, accused Australia of “recklessly making provocations” and blindly following the United States. In a recent filing to the UN, the Australian mission rejected China’s expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea on grounds of being “inconsistent” with the 1982 UNCLOS, which was also cited by the US when it adopted a similar posture on the dispute. Although China’s mission to the UN did not immediately reply to a request for comment, it is clear that Beijing is furious and has warned that broken diplomacy between the two countries was unsalvageable.

In the article titled “Australia unwisely boards US leaky boat to meddle in South China Sea,” Beijing claims that Australia is “not as tactful” as “UK or Canada” and by choosing to “show its loyalty for the US” it hasn’t clearly “thought about the consequences.”  China has threatened to take “strong countermeasures” such as sanctions on agricultural products such as beef and wine if it “insists on going on the current path.”

Australia has voiced its opposition to Chinese aggressive moves in the recent past which include but are not limited to use of military force in Taiwan Strait, annexation of Hong Kong’s legal system, border clashes with India, unilaterally setting up administrative islands in South China Sea which seems to have invited ire from the Chinese.Relations between the two countries have particularly been sour since Australian PM Scott Morrison defied China and called for investigation into the origin of coronavirus, which clearly incensed China which accused it of “pandering” to the United States.  As relations between the US and China have been deteriorating, leading to speculations of a new “cold war” China warned Canberra that it would be “extremely dangerous” or it to become “a player in a diplomatic club led by the US” through an article in the Global Times.

Defence and foreign ministers of Australia and the US are set to meet at the 2020 Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) in Washington on July 28, at the invitation of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, where “deepening defence cooperation in alignment with Australia’s Defence Strategic Update and Force Structure Plan,” is on the agenda. This comes after Australian warships encountered Chinese military near the disputed Spratly Islands during the US-led joint military exercise.