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China slams Australian white paper remarks on South China Sea

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China on Thursday slammed the remarks on the South China Sea in a white paper released by the Australian government, urging the Australia government to stop releasing "irresponsible remarks." – reported Global Times (China).

Though the white paper has given positive comments about China's development and Sino-Australian relations, the remarks on the South China Sea issue were irresponsible, and we have expressed severe concerns, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a daily briefing on Thursday.

"Australia is particularly concerned about the unprecedented pace and scale of China's activities," read the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper released on Thursday.

The white paper was launched by the Australian prime minister and the ministers for foreign affairs and trade, tourism and investment.

It is also the first comprehensive white paper on Australia's international engagement in 14 years.

"Australia is not a claimant state of the South China Sea issue and has repeatedly stated that the country does not have any stance on issues of sovereignty disputes," Lu said, urging Australia to keep its promise and stop making "irresponsible remarks" on the issue.

"China and countries surrounding the region, or Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, have agreed to peacefully resolve disputes through negotiations among parties directly involved," Lu said.

Both China and ASEAN countries are making joint efforts to safeguard the peace and stability in the region, and we hope countries outside the region respect these efforts, he added.

The white paper's highlight of the South China Sea issue is an inappropriate move, especially when the countries in the region are jointly promoting stability, cooperation and development, Liu Feng, a Hainan-based expert on the South China Sea, told the Global Times on Thursday.

China and ASEAN have reaffirmed their commitment to long-term peace and stability in the South China Sea as they announced the start of negotiations on the details of a code of conduct in the area, the Xinhua News Agency reported on November 16.

The white paper also committed Australia to deeper engagement with other countries in the region, a move widely viewed as a hedging strategy against China, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

By doing so, Australia is seeking visibility in the South China Sea and in Southeast Asia, Liu said.

He added that Australia is also seeking potential benefits for itself by closely following the strategy of the US and enhancing the US-Australia alliance.
China should push forward its practical cooperation with countries surrounding the South China Sea to expand their mutual interests and leave no room for disturbance from outside countries, according to Liu.

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Chinese media called “immature” Australia a “distant propaganda outpost” after the superpower reacted angrily to yesterday’s foreign policy white paper, reported News.com.au (Australia).

The Asian nation’s pollies urged Australia to stop making “irresponsible remarks” about its actions in the South China Sea.

The Turnbull Government released the first detailed document on Australia’s place in the world in 14 years yesterday.

An editorial in the Communist Party-owned tabloid, Global Times said China’s economic influence in Australia should have eased people’s concerns, according to ABC reports.
It said China “could relegate ties with Australia to the back of the line, and ignore its immature outburst”.

The white paper noted China’s remarkable economic growth and asserted that it had challenged the US’s position as the dominant power in the Indo-Pacific.

It also remarked on how China had caused “tension” in the South China Sea.
“Australia is particularly concerned by the unprecedented pace and scale of China’s activities,” the white paper states.

“Australia opposes the use of disputed features and artificial structures in the South China Sea for military purposes. We support the resolution of differences through negotiation based on international law.”

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang suggested that Australia butt out of the issue.
“Australia is not a party directly concerned in the South China Sea issue, and it has made clear many times that it does not take sides,” he said in Beijing on Thursday.

“We hope the Australian side will honour its commitment and stop making irresponsible remarks.”
He said the white paper offered “an objective look” at the relationship between China and Australia but also included “some negative” statements.

However, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has brushed off the criticism this morning.
“They are very upbeat and positive about the relationship,” Ms Bishop told ABC radio.
“The white paper is principled, it is pragmatic and it sets out very clearly our interests, our values and our priorities, and I think other nations will respect that.”

China claims virtually the entire South China Sea, pitting it against Taiwan and four Southeast Asian nations with overlapping claims in the waterway, which straddles busy international sea lanes and potentially has vast undersea deposits of oil and gas.
The US and others have accused Beijing of further militarising the region and altering geography to bolster its claims.

China says the seven islands it constructed on reefs and outcrops in the Spratly chain, which are equipped with airstrips and military installations, are mainly for civilian purposes and to boost safety for fishing and maritime trade.
China is Australia’s largest trading partner.

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