Australia’s Defense Minister derided a senior Chinese diplomat’s comments as “silly” and “comical,” after the latter dubbed Canberra’s trilateral nuclear-powered submarine pact with the US and UK a threat to peace.
During a television interview on Friday, Peter Dutton said acting Chinese Ambassador Wang Xining was “probably reading off a script from the Communist Party” when he warned that Australia would become the “naughty guy” if it procured the stealth-combat vessels through the AUKUS deal.
Wang, who is China’s most senior representative to the country after the previous ambassador’s term ended last month, told The Guardian on Thursday that Australia would be labeled a “sabre-wielder” rather than a “peace defender.” He said the Australian public “should be more worried” about the impact of the security pact their nation had made with the UK and the US.
There’s zero nuclear capacity, technologically, in Australia, that would guarantee you will be trouble free, that you will be incident free. And if anything happened, are the politicians ready to say sorry to people in Melbourne and in Adelaide?
However, Dutton “dismissed” the comments and countered that “most Australians [would] see through [their] non-productive nature.”
“We don’t see it from any other ambassador here in Australia. It’s quite remarkable,” the minister told the Nine Network, adding that “this type of diplomacy” was seen elsewhere in the world too.
“These provocative comical statements – it’s just so silly. It’s funny,” he added.
In September, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the deal to obtain at least eight nuclear-powered vessels as part of its new defense alliance. The pact angered not only China but also France, which claimed it had been “stabbed in the back” after Canberra unilaterally scrapped a multi-billion-dollar diesel-electric submarine contract with Paris.
Last weekend, Dutton had irked Beijing by stating that he could not conceive of a situation in which Australia would hesitate to support the US should armed conflict with China break out over Taiwan. Under its ‘One China’ policy, Beijing has pledged to reunify the island with the mainland.
Wang warned Australian politicians on Thursday not to do anything that would be “destructive to our relationship.”
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