China responds to UK claim of ‘aggression’ in Indo-Pacific
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has been spreading “disinformation” about Beijing and “parroting US rhetoric” in an attempt to undermine regional peace and stability, a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in London said in statement on Sunday.
“Today’s world is a far cry from the one 40 or 50 years ago. The Cold War is long gone!” the spokesperson said, stressing the importance of partnership in the face of global challenges, including the Covid-19 pandemic. “British diplomacy, if following the Cold War playbook, will get nowhere.”
Truss toured Australia over the weekend, praising AUKUS, last year’s security pact between London, Washington and Canberra widely seen as a bulwark against Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific.
Speaking at the Lowy Institute, a Sydney-based think tank, Truss warned of “China’s economic coercive policies” and said that China and Russia were “emboldened in a way we haven’t seen since the Cold War.”
The foreign secretary later told Australian press she could not rule out that Beijing will use a hypothetical Russian attack on Ukraine as an opportunity to launch its own aggression in the Indo-Pacific. “Aggressors are working in concert and I think it’s incumbent on countries like ours to work together,” Truss said, referring to the UK’s partnership with Australia.
Western officials and NATO have been accusing Russia of amassing troops with an intent to invade its neighbor, which Moscow denies.
Truss’ words have caused some backlash in Australia. In an op-ed published on public affairs blogsite Pearls and Irritations on Sunday, Paul Keating, Australia’s prime minister between 1991 and 1996, wrote that the suggestion that China could launch a military aggression in the region was “nothing short of demented.”
Keating accused the Australian government of “desperate promotion of Britain as a strategic partner of Australia in a policy of containment of China.”
“Britain suffers delusions of grandeur and relevance deprivation,” the former premier wrote. “Truss would do us all a favor by hightailing it back to her collapsing, disreputable government, leaving Australia to find its own way in Asia.”