PM’s veiled swipe at China you missed


Prime Minister Scott Morrison made a veiled swipe overnight at China over the country's concerning actions in the South China Sea, but blink and you'd miss it.

Late on Thursday night, a joint press release from the PM's office detailed a virtual meeting held that day between Mr Morrison, President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

Among the 17 points discussed included the leaders reconfirming "their resolve to work together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic" and committing "to ensure universal, equitable and early access to safe, effective and affordable COVID-19 vaccines".

But further down the list, was a pointed note surrounding the troubles in the South China Sea, in which China is a key player.

"The leaders agreed to enhance co-operation to promote shared interests in security and prosperity in Asia and the Pacific, spanning the Indian and Pacific oceans," the statement reads.

"The leaders expressed serious concern about the unilateral and destabilising actions in the South China Sea and underlined the importance of upholding international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)."

While China wasn't mentioned by name in the document, it's clear where the suggestion points.


Australian and US navy ships conduct manoeuvres in the South China Sea. Picture: Department of Defence
Australian and US navy ships conduct manoeuvres in the South China Sea. Picture: Department of Defence



The situation in the South China Sea has been dubbed "dicey and dangerous" by Asia Times, hampered by deteriorating relations between the China and the US under the Trump administration

China claims ownership over almost all of the South China Sea - despite the area already having claims from Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Beijing is a signatory to UNCLOS, but has declared all rulings against its interests as being irrelevant or invalid.

And an international tribunal in The Hague also ruled China had no historic title over its waters.

Yet satellite images have revealed Beijing is continuing to build fully functioning air and naval bases.

The strategic bases give China the ability to deploy combat aircraft and other military assets with terrifying efficiency across the disputed region and beyond.

In July, after Australia declared Beijing's claim in the South China Sea illegal, China fired a direct message in response, accusing Canberra of "recklessly making provocations" and blindly following the US.

The Australian Government formally rejected China's maritime claims in the South China Sea with a message to the United Nations.

Since, the country has imposed sanctions on numerous Australian products including beef and wine.

"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," according to an article penned by Guangdong Research Institute professor Zhou Fangyin.





The USS Gabrielle Giffords conducts routine operations in the South China Sea in June.
The USS Gabrielle Giffords conducts routine operations in the South China Sea in June.


The South China Sea has been called the "crux of the future US-China great-power relations" where commentators say "the chance of war is more likely than anywhere else".

"If Australia further provokes China, not only on political relations, but also economic relations, the damage to Australia should be expected."

Earlier this week, China accused the United States of trying to "create chaos" in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Royal Malaysian navy was reportedly involved in a "standoff" yesterday off the coast of Sarawak in the South China Sea after weeks of increasing tensions.



Yesterday, CCP mouthpiece The Global Times reported Beijing sent three "Type 071 amphibious dock landing ships and multiple Type 022 stealth missile boats" to the South China Sea, "sending a strong message of deterrence to Taiwan secessionists and forces with ulterior motives", analysts told the publication.

Beijing continues to double down on its assertion of total control over the South China Sea, swarming warships and aircraft around a US destroyer as it sailed through international waters.

"We urge the US side to immediately stop such kind of provocative actions, strictly manage and control its maritime and air military operations so as not to cause any eventuality," warned a Chinese military spokesman.

Originally published as PM's veiled swipe at China you missed