Australia says China has engaged in increasingly alarming activities

Australia says China has engaged in increasingly alarming activities

CANBERRA, Nov 26, Reuters - China's alarming actions do not match its rhetoric about promoting peace and prosperity in the region, Australia's defence minister said on Friday after a Chinese navy ship was tracked through the country's exclusive economic zone.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton cited China's militarisation in the South China SeaChina Sea, recent aggression towards Taiwan and the introduction of a national security law in Hong Kong as examples of China's actions in opposition to its rhetoric, and the introduction of a national security law in Hong Kong.

In a speech in Canberra, Dutton said that the Chinese government is committed to peace, cooperation and development.

There is a significant disconnect between the words and actions. We watched closely as the Chinese government has engaged in increasingly alarming activities. The Chinese embassy in Canberra said Dutton had distorted China's foreign policy, misled the Australian people and sparked conflict and division between peoples and nations. It is inconceivable that China-Australia relationship will take good momentum. If the Australian government bases its national strategy on such visionless analysis and outdated mentality, it said in a statement.

Canberra supported a United Nations inquiry into the origins of COVID 19 in China in 2020 when relations between Australia and its biggest export market fell to a low.

China imposed tariffs on Australian exports of wine, barley, beef, coal and seafood, effectively nullifying a free trade agreement from 2015 on Australian exports. Australia and its ally the United States branded the move economic coercion as Australia confirmed that it had watched a Chinese intelligence ship sailing in August inside Australia's exclusive economic zone, but not in Australian territorial waters.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the ship, the second of its type, inspected off the Australian coast in as many months, was legally travelling.

Morrison told reporters in Adelaide that they didn't think that we weren't keeping our eye on them, as they were trying to keep an eye on us.

It shows that no one can be complacent about the situation in the Indo-Pacific. In September, a new security pact between Australia, the United States and Britain, dubbed AUKUS, was widely viewed as an attempt to shore up regional military muscle in the face of China's growing presence.