A recent article in the Australian Financial Review claims that Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has changed her position on the South China Sea, and that Australia is now more in step with China’s stance.
This is not necessarily true, and seems to reflect the desires of some elements of Australian business to portray Australia as aligning with China instead of America.
Bishop has stated that there should be dialogue between claimant states in the South China Sea, and this is not a change in her position.
Her position has always been that non-claimant states such as Australia and the United States should be involved in the dialogue, and she has not stated she no longer wants this.
In fact, just last week, Bishop stated that Australia’s position on the South China Sea had not changed.
China claims 80 per cent of the South China Sea, including territory more than 2,000 kilometres from its coastline. Six other states – Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Borneo and Indonesia – have overlapping claims that are generally within their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), as defined under international law by the UNCLOS agreement.