|Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison has joined forces with Europe and made a veiled swipe at China overnight. (Photo: The Market Herald)|
Late on Thursday night, a joint press release from the Aus PM’s office detailed a virtual meeting held that day between Mr. Morrison, President of the European Council Charles Michel, and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.
Among the 17 points discussed included the leaders reconfirming “their resolve to work together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic” and committing “to ensure universal, equitable and early access to safe, effective and affordable COVID-19 vaccines”. But further down the list, was a pointed note surrounding the troubles in the South China Sea, in which China is a key player, News.com.au cited.
According to the press release published on the official website of the European Commission, the leaders "expressed serious concern about the unilateral and destabilizing actions in the South China Sea and underlined the importance of upholding international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea".
“The leaders agreed to enhance co-operation to promote shared interests in security and prosperity in Asia and the Pacific, spanning the Indian and Pacific oceans,” the statement reads.
While China was not mentioned directly, the escalating tensions in the Bien Dong Sea area and China's defensive response to international condemnation mean it's likely the Australian PM's comments were pointed in the Eastern giant's direction.
|Australian and US navy ships conduct maneuvers in the South China Sea. Picture: Department of Defence. (Photo: News.com.au)|
In July, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo labeled China's claims in the Bien Dong Sea are as "unlawful" and accused Beijing of bullying smaller nations in order to control them. "The PRC's predatory worldview has no place in the 21st century," Secretary Pompeo said at the time. Australia joined the U.S. in openly rejecting Beijing's South China Sea claims two weeks later in a letter to the United Nations. In the letter, the Australian government said China's actions go against international law, citing the 1982 United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
As such, this week's agreement to enhance cooperation in the area seems to be directly aimed at China and its aggressive claims, The Market Herald commented.
China has also slammed the United Kingdom and Canada for their "anti-China" activities and has gone as far as to call Australia "Washington's little lackeys". In fact, the Prime Minister's comments this week come just a day after the Global Times attacked Australia's latest warning to China against "pressure or coercion". "Australia has tied itself onto the U.S.' anti-China chariot," the paper said. "But it has suffered great from its own actions. Now, it has parroted the tone of Washington and blamed China for not reflecting on itself. This is nonsense," it continued.
This marks a continually souring relationship between Australia and China, with tariffs and trade tensions being imposed by China as Australia pushes for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19.
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