Albanese's robust China message after landmark 73-year first

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·Associate News Editor
·3-min read
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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has warned of China's growing threat in the Indo-Pacific as he joined NATO in a landmark and unified message to Beijing.

Mr Albanese told NATO leaders in Madrid that China aimed to become the "most powerful nation in the world", adding a strengthening of relations between Beijing and Moscow posed a risk to all democratic nations.

"Just as Russia seeks to recreate a Russian or Soviet empire, the Chinese government is seeking friends, whether it be ... through economic support to build up alliances to undermine what has historically been the Western alliance in places like the Indo-Pacific," he said.

Mr Albanese said Australia had been subjected to "economic coercion" by China and urged democratic leaders to pursue trade diversification.

Archivo - El primer ministro australiano, Anthony Albanese, habla durante una conferencia de prensa en Sydney, Australia, el viernes 10 de junio de 2022. (AP Foto/Mark Baker, Archivo)
Anthony Albanese's firm stance on China continued on Wednesday. Source: AP

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned on Wednesday China's coercive ways were an issue for the West – the first time the organisation had singled out Beijing in its 73-year history.

"We now face an era of strategic competition ... China is substantially building up its forces, including in nuclear weapons, bullying its neighbours, including Taiwan," he said.

"China is not our adversary but we must be clear-eyed about the serious challenges it represents."

The 30-nation strong NATO approved a new strategic blueprint for the next decade while Finland and Sweden were invited to become members as the Russian war pushed the two nations to drop their neutrality.

"The PRC's (People's Republic of China) malicious hybrid and cyber operations and its confrontational rhetoric and disinformation target allies and harm alliance security," NATO said.

Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol, from left, pose for media in a group photo of Indo-Pacific partners nations during the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, on Wednesday, June 29, 2022. North Atlantic Treaty Organization heads of state will meet for a NATO summit in Madrid from Tuesday through Thursday. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol in Madrid on Wednesday. Source: AP

Even New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern joined in on criticising China, saying Beijing was increasingly "challenging international rules and norms".

New Zealand has toughened its tone recently on both security and Beijing's growing presence in the South Pacific, in part due to the signing of a security pact between China and Solomon Islands.

NATO's message predictably triggered a strong response from Beijing, with foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian urging the organisation to leave China's region alone.

"Stop trying to mess up Asia and the world after messing up Europe," he said.

"What they should do is give up their Cold War mindset, zero-sum games and stop doing things that create enemies."

A day earlier China's foreign ministry warned Mr Albanese to stop making "irresponsible" comments after he said the response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine should be a warning to China regarding its Taiwan intentions.

With AAP and Reuters

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