UPDATED 10:05 AM PT — Monday, January 28, 2019
Australia is urging China to reduce tensions in the region as a dual citizen remains in Chinese custody. Australian Defense Minister Christopher Pyne made the comments Monday amid growing conflict between the U.S. and China.
“Any division of the region into Cold War-like blocs is doomed to failure since it would necessitate fault choices between prosperity and security,” he stated. “Unquestionably, rivalry between the U.S. and China will be a feature of our international outlook in the foreseeable future, however, it’s critical that U.S.-China relations do not come to be defined in wholly adversarial terms.”
Christopher Pyne called on China to follow international law when it comes to the South China Sea, so neighboring countries would not have to pick between the U.S. and China amid their growing rivalry.
“We are not interested in containing China, but we are interested in engaging and encouraging China to exercise its powers in ways that increase regional trust and confidence,” he stated. “The building and militarization of artificial features in the South China Sea for instance, has not increased regional confidence in China’s strategic intentions — instead, it has increased anxiety.”
Pyne claimed following international law would build confidence that China respects all states.
In the meantime, while China has detained an Australian writer for the past 10 days, Pyne is saying he doesn’t believe the imprisonment was about politics or related to the cases of Canadians detained in what many see as retaliation for the jailing of a Chinese executive in Canada.
“I don’t see any evidence that the detention of Mr. Yang is linked to decisions that the Australian government has made in the recent times, nor do I see it as being linked to the detention of the two Canadians,” said Pyne.
However, he did say he raised the issue with his Chinese counterpart during a visit last week to make sure the dual citizen was being treated fairly. Australia has been granted access to visit the writer, who is accused of endangering China’s national security.