Former Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr criticized Australia for giving negative comments about China after The Hague verdict on South China Sea sovereignty last week.
He said that the take of Australia on China after the ruling was unexpected. The statement came from Carr as he briefed an Australian journalist, who was on a visit to China, on the matter. The journalist put forth the question relating to ALP spokesperson Stephen Conroy who raised the issue of the involvement of Australians in sea patrolling. In his briefing, the former minister warned Australia not to join the United States after the Permanent Court of Arbitration judgment.
Meanwhile, an advisory committee member of China, Ruan Zongze, said that if Australia would conduct the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, it would be an unwise decision. He claimed that the US’ freedom of navigation has already crossed the limit permitted by the international law. Hence, Australia must not follow suit when it talks about freedom of navigation exercise on the sea.
“It would be unwise, it would be wrong and it will be devastating for Australia to join that kind of very dangerous exercise. You take a position to challenge China’s sovereignty,” he told a reputed Aussie media outlet. “However, America is not always right,” he said pointing to the recent British inquiry into the Iraq war that showed the US made many mistakes. He added, “It would be dangerous for America and maybe for its ally to pursue a kind of very provocative so-called freedom of navigation (exercise).”
Department of North American and Oceanic Affairs Director General Cong Peiwu said that China was prepared to take “serious counter-measures” against countries like Australia if they get involved in sea patrolling near any of the disputed islands under the name of freedom of navigation exercises. He further said that Aussie authorities must not favor the US against China as it would turn out to be “null and void.”
To the questions asked by the journalists, Cong said that China was “very disappointed” with the manner Conroy addressed the matter post the Hague‘s decision.
The Australian reported that China might be warning Aussies of not supporting the US but it has noted that Australia’s challenging tone may not be from itself but under some influence.