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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called on China to denounce Russian threats against Ukraine, enraging Beijing in the process.
Mr Morrison noted that Beijing and Moscow had announced they were pursuing closer relations since more than 100,000 Russian troops were sent to the Ukrainian border in an intimidating show of force.
“We would expect all nations, all governments around the world, to be denouncing what is taking place with the threats of violence against Ukraine,” he told Parliament on Tuesday.
“I do note that the Chinese government, together with the Russian government, have been banding together on this issue and that the Chinese government has not denounced what is occurring in Ukraine,” he said, calling on all federal lawmakers to denounce Russia's actions.
The Morrison government stands in unison with the US regarding the matter as the two nations' relationship continues to flourish, fuelled by a common goal: curbing China's growing dominance in the region.
On Sunday, Mr Morrison called on China to not remain "chillingly silent" on the Ukraine crisis.
China hits out at US, Australia
China's foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin took aim at the US on Tuesday evening amid Washington's ongoing criticism of China's relationship with Russia.
"Under the current circumstances, exaggerating and hyping up the possibility of warfare is not responsible behaviour," he said.
Mr Wang's remarks come 24 hours after he called on Mr Morrison to "abandon the Cold War mentality".
"We urge the Australian side to... stop making belligerent rhetoric that will escalate the tensions," he said.
"Such acts of seeking selfish political gains by clamouring for confrontation are unethical and dangerous."
The Morrison government has been accused of preparing for a "khaki election" with Defence Minister Peter Dutton repeatedly warning of the threat posed by China in our region, which he believes could lead to military conflict.
China's foreign ministry has previously branded Mr Dutton's remarks as "extremely absurd".
Speaking to ABC radio on Wednesday, deputy Opposition leader Richard Marles agreed that China should denounce Russia’s actions but cautioned that Mr Morrison was dangerously politicising the issue.
"China should speak out in opposition to what Russia is doing, and it should join the rest of the world in adding its voice to supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
"This is a very concerning moment in time and it is important that the global community stands up together," he said.
However Mr Marles warned the PM's attempt to politicise national security meant he was walking a "desperate path".
"The prime minister is clearly trying to create a political issue around national security for the upcoming election," he said.
Mr Morrison’s latest criticisms of China will add further strain to Sino-Australian relations after a torrid two year-period.
Morrison anticipates further criticism from Beijing
Beijing has reacted angrily to the Morrison government's vocal stance on several matters including Covid-19 origins, foreign interference and "internal matters" involving Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Yet Mr Morrison has remained resistant to China's calls for concessions on his government's position. On Tuesday he again continued his robust stance, saying he anticipated more anger from Beijing.
“I’m calling [China's position on Russia] out and I’m prepared to always call that out," he told 2SM.
“And I know that there’ll be blowback against me for saying that internationally.
"There’s always blowback against me when I stand up for Australia’s interests, and I tell you, you’ve got to be prepared to do it.”
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