Prime minister makes no apologies to China

Matt Coughlan
·2-min read

Australia is refusing to apologise to China after being accused of poisoning bilateral relations in an incendiary diplomatic briefing.

Chinese officials have outlined a long list of grievances and demanded Australia take action to stem worsening relations between the two countries.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison dismissed criticism that Australia acted at the behest of the US in crafting foreign policy.

"That's a nonsense," he told Seven's Sunrise program on Thursday.

"Australia is a sovereign country. We make our own decisions according with the national interests."

Mr Morrison said the Chinese embassy's unofficial document took issue with Australia for speaking up on human rights abuses, and criticised politicians and media for speaking freely about China.

"If this is the cause for tension in that relationship, it would seem the tension is that Australia is being Australia," the prime minister said.

"I can assure you, we will always be Australia, act in our interests and in accordance with our values."

The prime minister returned on Wednesday from Japan where he reached in-principle agreement on a defence pact that had been in the works for six years.

The Chinese embassy then deliberately leaked the grievance list and briefed media about the relationship.

"China is angry. If you make China the enemy, China will be the enemy," an official told Nine News.

The US National Security Council backed Australia after China's gripes were exposed.

"Beijing is upset Australia took steps to expose and thwart Chinese espionage & to protect Aussie sovereignty," the council tweeted.

"It's encouraging to see a growing number of countries following Canberra's lead in taking such steps."

The White House body also mocked China's "wolf warrior" diplomacy, posting a link to a video called "the funniest wolf howls are lazy ones".

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian is adamant officials in Beijing will offer few compromises to resolve disputes.

He said Australia was responsible for the deterioration in ties and called for the party who started the trouble to end it.

"I want to stress that the Australian side is completely aware of the crux of the decline of the bilateral relations," Mr Zhao told reporters in China.

"We hope the Australian side should do more to improve the mutual trust and cooperation and enhance the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries."

Among China's grievances are Australia's foreign investment rules, banning Huawei from Australia's 5G network and the push for an inquiry into the origins of coronavirus.

China has launched trade strikes against Australia with barley, wine and coal all affected amid a deepening diplomatic row.