Topics: Chinese ambassador NPC address; Australia-China relation;


06:05PM AEST



Waleed Aly: Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Birmingham joins us now to discuss this. Simon, we just heard Peter Dutton there is that sort of language at a moment of this tension, unnecessarily inflammatory and dangerous?


Simon Birmingham: Waleed, it is speaking the reality. And the reason why the world is so concerned at the fact that China has deployed all of these military assets, is undertaking live firing of ballistic missiles over the top of Taiwan, has encroached on Japanese territory. Is that all of this creates a risk of mistake, of misadventure, of some military nature, which if that occurs, then things can spiral out of control very, very quickly. And that’s why this is such an overreaction to what was initially a congressional visit, a parliamentary visit from the United States to Taiwan. And rather than responding with diplomatic means, if China was concerned, they’ve instead responded with these military means that creates this really dangerous situation and imperils, of course, the lives potentially of many millions of people, as well as disrupting trade and movement and other things.


Waleed Aly: But the way you’ve put that is similar to the way that, for example, Penny Wong has spoken about it, miscalculation, overreaction, etc.. Peter Dutton’s language, there was a lot more aggressive than that. Do you think that it’s that sort of rhetoric, that brand of rhetoric, that’s the reason you lost so many votes at the election from Chinese Australians?


Simon Birmingham: Waleed, I think there is certainly a task to be had in making sure that Australia’s concerned and the Australian Government’s concerns with the actions of the Chinese Government are never confused with our views in relation to the Chinese people, and particularly not those Australians and Australian citizens who may be of Chinese origin and heritage. Now I think the new Government is going to find that that is a challenging situation, that when you’re dealing with these circumstances and some of the provocations that we see from the Chinese government, the way it gets reported and reflected can become a confusing situation. But we all need to be careful that we reinforce especially the value we place on Chinese Australians, the value we place on the contribution they have, and that we don’t judge them at all by the actions of the Chinese government and what they undertake.


Carrie Bickmore: The ambassador said that China wants to peacefully reunify Taiwan with the motherland, not invade. Will Australia intervene or only if they take it by force?


Simon Birmingham: We’ve been very clear that we have One China policy that’s a bipartisan, long-standing policy. But nor does Australia, either side of politics or many other countries around the world wish to see any unilateral action that challenges the status quo, and especially not action by military means or the like. If there is to be a peaceful resolution to issues between China and Taiwan. Well, of course that would be welcome. But it should be peaceful. It should be engaging the different parties. And that’s what we would urge, not this type of huge escalation of military activity that we’re seeing right now.


Waleed Aly: Senator, thank you very much for your time tonight.


Simon Birmingham: Thanks, guys. My pleasure.