Defence Minister Richard Marles lays out demands to Beijing

Defence Minister Richard Marles is calling on Beijing to make clear that it opposes the invasion of another sovereign state, while rejecting claims that Western governments, including Australia, harbor deep-rooted hostility towards China.

Amid rising tensions in the Indo-Pacific, Mr Marles will address the Shangri-La Defense Forum in Singapore on Saturday and call on Beijing to clarify its support for international rules and institutions.

“If China makes clear in word and deed that it does not support the invasion of a sovereign country in violation of the UN Charter and is consistent with China’s long-standing commitment to the Charter’s founding principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, it would be a tremendous vote of confidence in China’s regional and global leadership,” Mr Marles will say.
“The importance of this cannot be overstated. Trust in Chinese leadership will be the most important prerequisite for maintaining the rules-based world order. And beyond that, it will also be central to building a stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.”

Mr Marles also warns that a “stable and sustainable regional order” cannot be achieved without a leading role for China. Nor can such an order be achieved if China continues to pursue its strategic objectives without taking into account the sovereign rights of its neighbours or the obligations imposed on it by international law.

Recent actions by Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea, including the use of water cannon and the ramming of Filipino vessels, represented a “serious escalation of tensions”, Mr Marles will say, before adding that China’s behaviour towards Taiwan has raised “similar concerns”.

“The People’s Liberation Army’s exercises rehearsing attacks and blockades against Taiwan do not inspire confidence that China prioritizes or plans to resolve the status of that island and its 22 million people peacefully,” he will say.

“The PLA’s record number of cross-strait incursions this year is part of this increasingly worrying trend.”

The defense minister will also reject the claim that Western democracies are ultimately determined to conquer Beijing.

“The view has sometimes been expressed by Chinese officials that the West is asking China to help defeat Russia so that it will then have a free hand to defeat China itself,” Mr Marles will say.

“This view is based on the idea of ​​an indelible hostility of the West towards China.

“That is completely wrong.”

Pointing to China’s economic rise, which has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, Mr Marles refutes claims that Australia and other democracies are opposed to China’s continued growth.

“There is no indelible hostility towards China,” Mr Marles will say.

“It’s about how we build a safer world and a safer region.”

In a sign of renewed rapprochement between China and Western powers, the US and Chinese defense ministers will meet in person on the sidelines of the dialogue after military communications between the two nations were suspended in 2022.

Read related topics:China

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