China has issued a stark warning to Anthony Albanese about ‘provocative behaviour’ and economic sanctions before his expected visit to Beijing later this year.
The communist power used its propaganda outlet the Global Times to denounce a delegation of Australian MPs who met Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen late on Tuesday.
The cross-party group of eight is spending four days in Taiwan’s capital Taipei for a series of meetings with senior economic, foreign ministry and security officials.
Under its One China policy, China claims sovereignty over Taiwan and maintains it is not a separate country, and some experts fear China could invade Taiwan and that Australia would be dragged into the resulting war.
The Global Times reported the visit to Taiwan – led by Labor’s Josh Wilson and Liberal Paul Fletcher – ‘is a test’ for Mr Albanese, which could end negotiations on China’s crippling tariff on Australian wines.
China has issued a stark warning to Anthony Albanese about ‘provocative behaviour’ and economic sanctions before his expected visit to Beijing later this year. Mr Albanese is pictured with China’s President Xi Jinping in Bali on November 15, 2022
Liberal MP Paul Fletcher is pictured with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Tuesday night
Australia’s official view of the ‘One China’ policy
Under the ‘One China’ policy, the communist power claims Taiwan is part of China and not a separate country.
Australia’s official policy is that it ‘adheres to its one China policy, which means we do not recognise Taiwan as a country.
‘We maintain unofficial contacts with Taiwan promoting economic, trade and cultural interests.’
Source: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Qin Sheng, executive research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said ‘The Taiwan visit will only bring embarrassment to the Albanese government, because it could disrupt its configuration of China policy.’
Mr Qin warned that ‘there are still unresolved issues between China and Australia, such as the wine dispute. China is unlikely to discuss this issue with Australia against the backdrop of Australian MPs’ Taiwan visit.’
The bilateral relationship became fractured during the final years of the last Coalition government.
The diplomatic spat was sparked when the Morrison government called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the Covid pandemic.
The move enraged the authoritarian nation, who slapped huge tariffs on key Australian exports including wine, barely and coal.
Things have since thawed considerably under the Labor government elected in May 2022.
But the visit of the delegation – which also includes Labor’s Graham Perrett, David Smith, Daniel Mulino and Catryna Bilyk, and Liberals Matt O’Sullivan and Claire Chandler – has outraged Beijing.
‘By playing the Taiwan card, these MPs aim to create troubles in bilateral relations, seek international attention and gain political capital,’ the Global Times thundered.
In a change from previous visits by Australian politicians, the current group has allowed Taiwanese officials to issue photos of their meeting with President Tsai.
Taiwan is Australia’s fourth-largest export market and fifth-largest trading partner, with gas, coal and iron ore being Australia’s main exports there.
Mr Wilson told President Tsai those figures could increase ‘in areas like the global clean energy transition, critical minerals, education and tourism.’
He did not shy away from mentioning Taiwan’s increasing tensions with China, though.
‘There is no doubt that the people of Australia and Taiwan have a shared interest in a region that is peaceful, stable, environmentally sustainable and prosperous – and together we support an open and inclusive Indo-Pacific based on respectful and collaborative participation in the rules-based order,’ he told President Tsai.
‘Australia is committed to working with all our Indo-Pacific partners on that basis, because in our judgement it is both sensible and the right thing to do …
‘It’s the only approach that will succeed in addressing challenges that must be shared, like climate change,’ he said.
Chinese troops are pictured taking part in marching drills on the outskirts of Beijing. Some experts fear China could invade Taiwan and Australia would be dragged into the resulting war
Chen Hong, director of the Australian Studies Centre of East China Normal University, called on the Prime Minister to distance himself from the delegation of Australian politicians.
‘If Albanese truly wants to mend ties with China, he should oppose, condemn and then rein in the rogue behavior of MPs visiting Taiwan,’ he said.
A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said ‘Australia values its deep and productive unofficial relationship with Taiwan, focused on trade and investment, cultural and people to people ties’.
‘There has been no change to Australia’s longstanding bipartisan one-China policy position.’
Why China set its sights on Taiwan
Taiwanese soldiers hoist the flag of Taiwan in Taipei on May 10. China considers Taiwan as a part of its territory, but many Taiwanese people want the island to be independent
China and Taiwan have a long-standing dispute over the island’s sovereignty.
China considers Taiwan as a part of its territory, more precisely a province, but many Taiwanese want the island to be independent.
From 1683 to 1895, Taiwan was ruled by China’s Qing dynasty. After Japan claimed its victory in the First Sino-Japanese War, the Qing government forced to cede Taiwan to Japan.
The island was under the Republic of China’s ruling after World War II, with the consent of its allies the US and UK.
The leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party, Chiang Kai-shek, fled to Taiwan in 1949 and established his government after losing the Civil War to the Communist Party and its leader Mao Zedong.
Chiang’s son continued to rule Taiwan after his father and began democratising Taiwan.
In 1980, China put forward a formula called ‘one country, two systems’, under which Taiwan would be given significant autonomy if it accepted Chinese reunification. Taiwan rejected the offer.
Taiwan today, with its own constitution and democratically-elected leaders, is widely accepted in the West as an independent state. But its political status remains unclear.