Penny Wong defends push for China to ‘de-escalate’ tensions in Taiwan Strait and says region is concerned of ‘risk of conflict’ – Michmutters

Penny Wong defends push for China to ‘de-escalate’ tensions in Taiwan Strait and says region is concerned of ‘risk of conflict’

Foreign Minister Penny Wong has hit back at China for singling out Australia over calls to restore stability in the Taiwan Strait.

Senator Wong joined her counterparts from the United States and Japan on Saturday to condemn Chinese military escalation which saw high-powered missiles launched towards Taiwan and Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

The reaction drew the ire of the Chinese government which accused Senator Wong of “finger-pointing” while claiming it was the “victim” of “political provocation”.

But the Foreign Minister doubled down on her concerns on Monday and said Australia and regional partners would continue to “urge restraint”.

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“What is most critical at the moment is that the temperature is lowered and calm is restored when it comes to cross-strait tensions,” Senator Wong said in a press conference in Canberra.

“Australia continues to urge restraint, Australia continues to urge de-escalation and this is not something that solely Australia is calling for.

“The whole region is concerned about the current situation, the whole region is calling for stability to be restored.”

Over the weekend, the Taiwanese government accused Beijing of simulating an attack after the first trip to the island from a US House Speaker in a quarter of a century.

The Defense Ministry said China used 66 plans and 14 warships in the exercise on Sunday and had launched 11 ballistic missiles during live-fire drills on Thursday.

The US, Japan and Australia responded on Saturday with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Japan Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa and Senator Wong calling for China to “immediately cease” its military exercises.

The trio also expressed concerns that China’s actions would “gravely affect international peace and stability”.

“They condemned the PRC’s launch of ballistic missiles, five of which the Japanese government reported landed in its exclusive economic zones, raising tension and destabilizing the region,” a joint statement said.

The Chinese Embassy in Canberra on Sunday defended the central government’s military exercises, describing them as actions to “safeguard state sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

But the statement singled out Australia and said Canberra had “condemned the victim”.

Senator Wong hit back and said Australia was “not the only country concerned about escalation” and raised concerns of potential conflict in the Pacific.

“The region is concerned about the risk of conflict,” she said on Monday.

“We will continue, in a calm and considered way, to articulate our national interests.”

“Our interests are the interest of the region and that is restraint and de-escalation.”

Taipei was forced to scramble fighter jets and put shore-based missiles on stand-by with the Chinese Defense Ministry saying it was “testing the capabilities” of assault systems.

China has never ruled Taiwan but considers the island its territory.


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