Beijing hits out over Australia’s South China Sea claims

 

 

Australia's declaration that Beijing's claim over islands in contested waters is illegal could lead to sanctions on our beef and wine exports, Chinese state media has warned.

The Global Times newspaper said Australia's bold challenge to Beijing's ownership of disputed islands in the South China Sea was a reckless provocation, amid bilateral relations which have "already drastically soured".

"It seems Australia hasn't clearly thought about the consequence," an article by Guangdong Research Institute for International Strategies professor Zhou Fangyin states in the article, entitled "Australia unwisely boards US leaky boat to meddle in South China Sea".

The paper further warned that "the relationship between China and Australia has now deteriorated to a very bad point, and the chance for a turnaround is slim in the near future".

"If it still insists on going on the current path, the possibility that China will take strong countermeasures cannot be ruled out."

The article identified trade retaliation on Australian beef and wine as an example of the "damage" that "should be expected" if Canberra further "provokes" Beijing.

The Global Times is seen as a mouthpiece for the Chinese government.

Australia has provoked the ire of Beijing by filing a declaration at the United Nations rejecting China's claim that it owns a number of disputed islands in the South China Sea, an important international shipping route.

 

Royal Australian Navy helicopter frigate HMAS Parramatta (L) conducts manoeuvres with amphibious assault ship USS America, guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill and guided-missile destroyer USS Barry in the South China Sea. Picture: Supplied
Royal Australian Navy helicopter frigate HMAS Parramatta (L) conducts manoeuvres with amphibious assault ship USS America, guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill and guided-missile destroyer USS Barry in the South China Sea. Picture: Supplied

 

"There is no legal basis for China to draw straight baselines connecting the outermost points of maritime features or 'island groups' in the South China Sea," the government letter said.

"Australia rejects any claims to internal waters, territorial sea, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf based on such straight baselines."

The Global Times criticised that declaration, saying "Australia's policy lacks independence, and its current choice is to closely follow the US lead".

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2019. Picture: Supplied
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2019. Picture: Supplied

 

"Australia actually knows the bottom line. It mainly wants to express its stance to the US and make some anti-China gestures to win support from the US," the Global Times said.

ANU professor of International Law Don Rothwell said Australia's letter to the United Nations was a formal and public rejection of China's claims over islands in the South China Sea.

"Australia is making it clear in diplomatic and legal language that it rejects China's position on these matters," he said.

 

 

Originally published as Beijing hits out over Australia's South China Sea claims