Skip to content

Australian Defence Minister Discusses Military Confrontations With Chinese Counterpart

Australia has tackled Beijing over recent dangerous military incidents in the Indo Pacific region at an international security conference in Singapore.

The defence ministers of both countries were at the International Institute for Strategic Studies 21st Asia Security Summit in Singapore last week. Australia’s Richard Marles took the opportunity to meet with his counterpart Dong Jun, raising the issue about at least two unsafe incidents by the Chinese military against Australian defence personnel.

These were a Chinese jet forcing an Australian navy helicopter to take evasive action after dropping flares directly in front of it, and a Chinese ship using sonar pulses against naval divers.

“Obviously we have seen some unsafe incidents … we’ve spoken about them and I obviously raised them with Minister Dong,” Mr. Marles told Sky News.

He described the conversation as “frank,” adding: “We covered a lot of territory but it was a good meeting as well, it went longer than was anticipated.”China Should Intervene With Russia: MarlesHe also used his speech at the conference to call on Beijing to take a greater role in promoting peace and also to take a more forthright role in pressuring Russia to end its attack on Ukraine.

“In truth, it is not security that drives Russia but a quest to reclaim lost empire,” he said.

Related StoriesAustralia Backs Philippines Against Beijing’s Aggression in South China Sea4/3/2024Australia Backs Philippines Against Beijing’s Aggression in South China SeaAustralia Rejects Beijing’s Denial Of Sonar Attack1/18/2024Australia Rejects Beijing’s Denial Of Sonar Attack

“It aims to reverse the post-Cold War security order in Europe and, by extension, refashion how the world operates. It aims to shift the global rules-based order from one that seeks to strike a careful balance between sovereignty and liberty, between rules and power, to one that is based on power alone.

“But the deeper question is the implications of China’s strategic partnership with Russia given its current malign and violent path.”

The war in Ukraine, despite being across the world, remains relevant to Australia.

“The world has become much more interconnected—it’s smaller, people are looking at conflicts all over the world to draw conclusions from how they should behave in their own spheres,” Mr. Marles said.

Mr. Marles rejected the idea that the West is asking Beijing to help end Russian aggression, therefore freeing the West to defeat China.

China's Defence Minister Dong Jun speaks during the 21st Shangri-La Dialogue summit at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore on June 2, 2024. (Photo by Nhac Nguyen/AFP via Getty Images)China’s Defence Minister Dong Jun speaks during the 21st Shangri-La Dialogue summit at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore on June 2, 2024. (Photo by Nhac Nguyen/AFP via Getty Images)

“There has been a view, sometimes expressed by Chinese officials, that its strategic partnership with Russia is a necessary buffer against anti-China hostility. That is totally wrong,” the minister said.

“There is no indelible hostility to China. It is about how we build a safer world and a safer region.

“Confidence—and indeed trust—in Chinese intent will be the single most important ingredient to the maintenance of the global rules-based order. And by extension, it will be at the heart of building a stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.”Marles Critical of LiberalsOpposition home affairs spokesman James Paterson said government ministers should have started talking with their counterparts sooner.

But Mr. Marles rejected that, saying concerns were raised through diplomatic channels and pointing out the previous coalition government couldn’t get any meetings with Beijing.

He said the relationship between the two nations had deteriorated under the Liberals, meaning concerns could not be raised, and areas of cooperation like trade ceased as well.

He also described the relationship between Canberra and Beijing as “complex.”

“We definitely don’t want to gratuitously antagonise China, that’s not what we’re trying to do, but at the same time, it’s important that we speak to our national interests, there is never any question about that.”

Source link