China’s embassy in Canberra has taken aim at Australia, the United States and Japan, accusing them of “finger pointing” and victim blaming after they condemned Beijing’s military exercises around Taiwan.
- The Chinese embassy says China’s military actions have been “justified” and has condemned “finger-pointing” from Penny Wong
- China’s recent drills have Taiwan preparing for a war they do not seek, Taipei says
- Australia would likely be called on to assist Taiwan “in some form of support”, says Shadow Defense Minister Andrew Hastie
However the Australian government has fired back, saying the military drills were an overreaction following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.
Taiwan’s government claimed China’s military drills appear to simulate an attack on the self-ruled island, after multiple Chinese warships and aircraft crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait following Ms Pelosi’s controversial trip.
In response, Taiwan’s armed forces dispatched air and naval patrols around the island and activated land-based missile systems, the Ministry of National Defense said.
As of Saturday at 5pm, 20 Chinese aircraft and 14 ships continued to carry out sea and air exercises around the Taiwan Strait, he said.
The ministry said that zones declared by China as no-go areas during the exercises for other ships and aircraft had “seriously damaged the peace.”
It emphasized that Taiwan’s military did not seek war, but would prepare for it, and respond to it accordingly.
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa issued a joint statement condemning China’s exercises, and demanding they “immediately cease.”
Beijing’s shipments in Australia fired back.
“It is absolutely unacceptable for the finger-pointing on China’s justified actions to safeguard state sovereignty and territorial integrity,” a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy said on Saturday.
“We firmly oppose and sternly condemn this.”
The embassy went on to claim it was China that was the victim of “political provocation” from the US.
“The actions taken by the Chinese government to safeguard state sovereignty and territorial integrity and curb the separatist activities are legitimate and justified,” the spokesperson said.
“Instead of expressing sympathy and support to the victim, the Australian side has condemned the victim along with the perpetrators.
“This is completely putting the cart before the horse and reversing the right from the wrong.”
China’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement that it had carried out military exercises as planned in the sea and airspaces to the north, south-west, and east of Taiwan, with a focus on “testing the capabilities” of its land strike and sea assault systems.
Australia likely to be called on for Taiwan support
The Australian Government said the military drills were an overreaction to Ms Pelosi’s visit.
“We feel that the response by the Chinese Government was disproportionate and destabilizing,” government frontbencher Anika Wells told Sky News on Sunday morning.
“And that now remains a watching brief for Minister [Penny] Wong, obviously, to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to stabilize security in the region.”
Joe Biden has previously said the US was committed to military intervention, in the event China attacks Taiwan.
Shadow Defense Minister Andrew Hastie said it was a principled position to protect a neighbour, and suggested Australia would likely be called on for some form of support in the event of war breaking out.
“If there was a conflict around Taiwan, whether we’re involved directly or indirectly on the periphery, we would certainly be in the gun,” he told the ABC’s Insiders.
“That’s why we need to build our deterrence strength, that’s why we need to exercise exceptional political leadership, diplomatic leadership.”
China says Pelosi visit violated ‘one China’ policy
China launched live-fire military drills following Ms Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan earlier this week, saying it violated the “one China” policy.
China sees the island as a breakaway province to be annexed by force if necessary and considers visits to Taiwan by foreign officials as recognizing its sovereignty.
Taiwan’s army also said it detected four unmanned aerial vehicles flying in the vicinity of the offshore county of Kinmen on Friday night and fired warning flares in response.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen reassured that the Taiwanese government posted “closely monitoring” the exercises and are “ready to respond as necessary”, in a tweet on Friday.
The Chinese military exercises began Thursday and are expected to last until Sunday.
Taiwan has put its military on alert and staged civil defense drills, while the US has deployed numerous naval assets in the area.
The Biden administration and Ms Pelosi have said the US remains committed to a “one-China” policy, which recognizes Beijing as the government of China but allows informal relations and defense ties with Taipei.
The administration discouraged but did not prevent Ms Pelosi from visiting.
China has also cut off defense and climate talks with the US and imposed sanctions on Ms Pelosi in retaliation for the visit.
Taiwanese overwhelmingly favor maintaining the status quo of the island’s de facto independence and reject China’s demands that the island unify with the mainland under communist control.
Globally, most countries subscribe to the “one-China” policy, which is a requirement to maintain diplomatic relations with Beijing.
Any company that fails to recognize Taiwan as part of China often faces swift backlash, often with Chinese consumers pledging to boycott its products.