Relations between Vietnam and China have become particularly hostile since China deployed an oil rig in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). (See “China’s neighbours react to new South China Sea claims” from last week.)
Now Australia is signalling that it is also joining this alliance. The change in policy was indicated in a statement by Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, during a visit by Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe to Australia to meet Australia’s prime minister, Tony Abbott. Like many of China’s neighbours, Australia had had a policy of being careful not to anger China, for fear of retaliation.
But there was a major confrontation last November, after China announced an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ), demanding that any foreign aircraft flying into the East China Sea would have to inform China’s military beforehand. (“24-Nov-13 World View — In new escalation, China demands to control air space over Japan’s Senkaku islands”.)
Julie Bishop was visiting Beijing at that time and complained about the unilateral declaration of the ADIZ. According to reports, China’s foreign minister told her that the ADIZ was none of her business, and he “famously tore strips off her,” with cameras rolling. (“Tear strips off somebody” is apparently an Australian expression meaning to severely scold someone.)
So now, Bishop is explaining that she’s learned some lessons from that experience. In particular, Australia’s previous policies of reticence toward China have only caused confusion, and that it’s better to be frank than misunderstood:
China doesn’t respect weakness.
The freedom of the skies and freedom of the seas in that part of the world is important to us because that’s where the majority of our trade is done.
So I believed that, at that time, we had to make it clear where we stood on unilateral action that could be seen as coercive and could be seen to – and which did – affect our national interests. …
So, when something affects our national interest then we should make it very clear about where we stand.
Bishop said she had no doubt that America would remain the pre-eminent force internationally:
This is a debate that the US will have to have about its role in the world. It is currently the only super power with the military capability to act globally and the US must determine whether it’s going to continue in that role. I believe that it must, and it will.Source: Breitbart – Australia Joins Japan, Vietnam, Philippines in Opposing China
- China says it does not want war with Vietnam; that really means that they will start one (chinadailymail.com)
- China urges peaceful development of seas by all countries, while not following its own advice (chinadailymail.com)
- Japan aims to rearrange region’s power balance by confronting China; hopes to offer military aid to Vietnam (chinadailymail.com)
- Japan’s Abe turns to South East Asia to counter China (chinadailymail.com)
- US military plans new tactics to deter China in South China Sea (chinadailymail.com)
- Too much at risk to stay quiet (stuff.co.nz)
- Japan to help Australia build new submarine (wantchinatimes.com)
- Philippines, Vietnam form team to boost alliance (rappler.com)
- China blasts Japan’s new self-defense posture as others voice support (stripes.com)
- Vietnam’s deft diplomatic footwork on the South China Sea (eastasiaforum.org)
- Vietnam, Japan stand up to China (globalnation.inquirer.net)