Sun Herald, 31 May 2015. South China Sea dispute: Strong indication Australia will join push back on China’s island-building, by David Wroe and Philip Wen.
An edited extract of the original article is reproduced below.
Defence Minister Kevin Andrews has issued the Abbott government’s strongest signal yet that Australia is prepared to join the United States and other countries in pushing back against China’s island-building and militarisation in the South China Sea.
Further hardening Australia’s stance, Mr Andrews has used a speech at a key Asian security conference to state unequivocal opposition to large-scale land reclamation – a clear dig at China’s island-building and positioning of military hardware on the disputed Spratly Islands chain.
His remarks to the Shangri-La dialogue in Singapore, which was attended by top Asia-Pacific defence officials including from China, closely echo those of US counterpart Ashton Carter, as worried countries across the region present an increasingly united front against Beijing’s assertiveness.
Mr Andrews issued a thinly veiled warning that other countries in the region will respond if Beijing persists, saying that actions in international security tend to produce “a corresponding counter-reaction”.
“As with Newton’s principles, aspects of international security are often characterised by an action and a corresponding counter-reaction,” he said. “In making decisions, countries and leaders should always be wary of the consequences, intended or otherwise, of a particular course of action and the potential for these actions to lead to escalation and miscalculation.”
Mr Andrews added that Australia had a “legitimate interest in the maintenance of peace and stability … unimpeded trade and freedom of navigation” – a possible signal that the Abbott government could, as Fairfax Media reported last week, take part in joint military exercises close to the Spratly Islands as a show of defiance against China’s claims…
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