'Extremely unwise': China hits out on eve of Australia hosting Quad talks

Beijing has delivered a stern warning to Australia and fellow Quad members ahead of talks that will have a strong focus on China's growing dominance in the Indo-Pacific.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is the notable arrival in Melbourne for the fourth foreign ministers meeting between Australia, India, the US and Japan as Quad members on Friday.

The US's Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Daniel Kritenbrink, said Mr Blinken's visit was part of the four nations' ramped up efforts to "push back against aggression and coercion" while Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne pointed to the "challenges" China posed.

"We do see daily examples of coercion from authoritarian states that as a strong liberal democracy, Australia is not willing to tolerate or condone," Ms Payne told ABC's RN Breakfast.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves as he steps from his plane upon arrival to attend the meeting of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) foreign ministers in Melbourne, Australia, February 9, 2022.   REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/Pool
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives in Melbourne – his attendence in person 'speaks volumes', one American senator said.

China accuses US of betraying democracy

When asked about the impending meeting on Wednesday, China's foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian took aim at the US.

"Despite its ruined democratic brand, the US still forces other countries to accept its democratic standards and cobbles together cliques by drawing the ideological line. This is sheer betrayal to democracy," he said.

Mr Zhao once again stressed China pursues "peace, development and cooperation" in the region.

"We hope the US and other countries concerned will grasp the trend of the times, adopt a proper mindset and discard the Cold War mentality."

China's foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian pictured in Beijing press conference in a navy suit.
China's foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian questioned the motives of Quad members on Wednesday. FMPRC

Australia's remarks branded 'nonsense'

Chinese-state media outlet the Global Times was as critical with its assessment.

Chen Hong, a professor and director of the Australian Studies Centre of East China Normal University, told the Beijing mouthpiece it was "extremely unwise" for Australia to treat China as its enemy.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne's remarks were also branded "nonsense".

Unlike its Quad counterparts, Australia's "diehard anti-China policy" has all but severed ties with Beijing, the Global Times noted.

Mr Blinken pictured second left at a virtual Quad meeting last year. Source: Getty
Mr Blinken pictured second left at a virtual Quad meeting last year. Source: Getty

"This proves that politicians in Canberra are making their country look stupid and keep losing the game," it said, referencing Chinese experts.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton has repeatedly riled Beijing in recent months for his continued commentary regarding China's threat in the region.

Antony Blinken to meet with Scott Morrison

Mr Dutton has warned of an increased risk of military conflict and said this week AUKUS nations would "lose the next decade" if China was not challenged.

Mr Blinken's will include meetings with senior Australian officials, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, as they seek to build on September's AUKUS trilateral defence pact with the UK which will see nuclear-powered submarines brought to Australia.

US Democrat Congressman Joe Courtney told ABC Radio National on Thursday Mr Blinken's visit, despite the developing situation in Ukraine, "speaks volumes" of how highly he regards the importance of the Quad, and called a similar stance from the UK as "extraordinary".

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