China’s warning shot at PM’s $270b defensive move
CHINA has warned Australia to avoid an arms race and to stop purchasing "unnecessary military equipment", as Australia embarks on a $270 billion defence ramp-up.
The warning from our largest trading partner comes despite its own increasingly assertive actions in the region.
It comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed Australia is considering allowing Hong Kong residents to come here as Beijing cracks down on the former British colony, in apparent breach of the agreed to hand over.
It is the latest in the growing tensions between Australia and the emerging super power.
The Defence White Paper, released this week, details the $270 billion defence spend over the next decade.
It includes investing in new long-range missiles and hypersonic weapons research, while warning that the chance of conflict in the Indo-Pacific is "less remote" than it was and that Australia may not receive warning before conflict starts.
In response China's foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the matter was up to Australia, but gave a clear message.
"All countries should avoid an arms race and refrain from purchasing unnecessary military equipment," he said.
It is despite China's defence budget of $178 billion a year being second only to the US.
Mr Morrison said he had not heard anything directly from Chinese officials in relation to the Defence spending, but had received "support and encouragement" from Australia's partners in the region. "What we're about is we're about peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific," he said.
Mr Morrison also confirmed Cabinet was considering providing some form of support for Hong Kong residents looking to leave.
"When we have made a final decision on those arrangements then I'll make the announcements, but if you asking are we prepared to step up and provide support? The answer is yes," he said.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has offered sanctuary for up to 3 million Hong Kongers and a possible route to UK citizenship if they want it.
Originally published as China's warning shot at PM's $270b defensive move