CANBERRA: Australia’s recent change of government was a chance to “reset” its troubled relationship with China, but the new administration must “handle the Taiwan question with caution”, a Chinese envoy said.
Chinese Ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian said he was “surprised” that Australia had signed a statement with the United States and Japan that condemned China’s firing of missiles into Japanese waters in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last week.
“We hope that the Australian side could take China-Australia relations with serious attitude. Take the ‘One China’ principle seriously, handle the Taiwan question with caution,” Xiao told the National Press Club.
Xiao would not say when the live-fire military exercises near Taiwan might end.
He said an announcement would be made at a “proper time.”
China wanted a peaceful reunification with Taiwan, which Beijing considers a self-governing province, but Xiao did not rule out use of force.
“We can never rule out the option to use other means. So when necessary, when compelled, we are ready to use all necessary means,” Xiao said. “As to what does it mean by ‘all necessary means’? You can use your imagination.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin this week said Australia had “wantonly criticised China’s legitimate, justified and lawful measures to safeguard its sovereignty.”
Wang urged Australia to “stop interfering in China’s internal affairs.”
Beijing has eased a ban on minister-to-minister contacts with Australia since Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s government was elected in May. The countries’ defence and foreign ministers have since had face-to-face meetings.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang wrote to congratulate Albanese on his election and Albanese had replied.
China would discuss with Australia whether conditions were right for a meeting between Albanese and Chinese President Xi Jinping in November when the leaders are in Indonesia for a Group of 20 summit. — AP