Australia Calls China’s Ballistic Missile Drills ‘Destabilizing’
11:02 GMT 05.08.2022 (Updated: 12:44 GMT 19.06.2023)
Beijing has launched its biggest “live-fire” and ballistic missile drills to date in six regions around Taiwan in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island this week, despite previous warnings. The Chinese Defense Ministry says the drills are meant to deter collusion between Taiwan and the US.
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong has said that Canberra remains “deeply concerned” about the ballistic missile drills being undertaken by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) around Taiwan in response to the visit of US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi
“These exercises are disproportionate and destabilizing,” Foreign Minister Penny Wong said in a statement on Friday.
“This is a serious matter for the region, including for our close strategic partner, Japan,” the Australian statement said. Both Japan and Australia are part of the US-led "Quad" grouping, which also comprises India. Canberra describes the Quad as a “key pillar” of its foreign policy.
Wong said that she had conveyed Canberra’s concerns about the “escalating military activity” and “risks of miscalculation” to her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi during the East Asia Summit (EAS) meeting held earlier in the day in Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh.
Both Wong and Wang, along with their Japanese counterpart Yoshimasa Hayashi, attended the EAS foreign ministers’ meeting in Phnom Penh. The 18-nation EAS also includes Russia, the US, India, as well as the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The Australian foreign minister also underlined that her government didn’t back a “unilateral change of status quo” across the Taiwan Strait. Wong added that Canberra remained committed to the One-China Policy, for which there is a “bipartisan” consensus among major Australian parties—governing Labor and opposition Liberal Party.
Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen said on Thursday evening that Beijing might be trying to change the "status quo" of the island, which is officially recognized as part of China, but has been governed independently since 1949.
Earlier this week, Wong as well as the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese refused to explicitly back Pelosi’s Taiwan trip
, saying that it was a matter for the US. Albanese said on Friday that Canberra wanted “peace” in the region as well as “positive” ties with Beijing based on international law.
On Thursday, Hayashi expressed “grave concern” over the Chinese military drills around Taiwan, when he met Wang and their South Korean counterpart Park Jin during the ASEAN+3 meeting in Phnom Penh.
A previously scheduled bilateral meeting between the Chinese and Japanese FMs on the sidelines of the ASEAN-related events on Thursday was cancelled by Beijing after a joint statement by the G7 club of nations as well as the European Union (EU) urged China to not use Pelosi’s visit as a “pretext” for “aggressive” military activity. Japan is a member of the G7 bloc, which includes the US, UK, Germany, France, Canada, and Italy.
The statement by the Australian foreign minister criticizing Beijing comes a day after Tokyo registered a protest with China
after five Chinese ballistic missiles landed in the Japanese Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) near Hateruma Island, which is part of Okinawa prefecture.
The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) on Thursday also scrambled fighter jets towards the Tokyo-controlled Sakishima Islands after Chinese drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were spotted over the region, as per images released by the government.
Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi has urged Beijing to stop the combat drills, saying that the military exercises concern Tokyo’s “national security.”