'Extremely irresponsible': China slams Australia's war 'hype'

China has again urged Australian "troublemakers" to carefully think about their choice of words in the wake of recent warnings of a potential war in the Indo-Pacific.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton and secretary of the home affairs department Mike Pezzullo have both spoken of the need for Australia to be ready for potential military conflict amid rising tensions in the region.

Yet their suggestions war could be on the horizon has infuriated Beijing as well as several high-profile Opposition figures in Australia.

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan said Mr Pezzullo's remarks where he warned the "drums of war are beating" were "totally unnecessary".

When pressed on Mr Pezzullo's comments on Wednesday evening, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian branded some politicians in Canberra as "extremely irresponsible".

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian is pictured.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has criticised the recent words of several Australian politicians. Source: AFP via Getty Images

"Some individual politicians in Australia, out of their selfish interests, are keen to make statements that incite confrontation and hype up threat of war, which is extremely irresponsible and will find no audience," he said.

"These people are the real troublemakers. I have noticed that many people in Australia have expressed disapproval on social media, saying that such inflammatory language are outrageous and extremely crazy."

China 'promoter of world peace'

In recent months, the Morrison government has raised its concerns over the threat China poses to national security and interests but also overseas, particularly in Hong Kong and Taiwan where Beijing is pushing ahead with attempts to reunify with the democratic island.

Yet Mr Zhao accused Canberra of tarnishing China's reputation with unfounded and fabricated claims.

"China has been a promoter of world peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of international order," he claimed.

"Australia is being untruthful and immoral with its false allegation of 'China threat theory'. This will only end up hurting its own interests."

While Mr Zhao failed to elaborate which of Australia's interests would be compromised, the country's exports to China have been hit with trade sanctions last year in response to our vocal position on several matters involving China, with the Morrison government regularly recognising China as the nation's largest trading partner.

And while Mr Dutton stressed Australia would strive for peace in the region, a stance Prime Minister Scott Morrison backed up, Mr Zhao said recent "irresponsible remarks" were damaging to a collective desire for regional harmony.

Pictures of Canberra's and Beijing's skylines.
Relations between Canberra and Beijing continue to struggle. Source: Getty Images

China's latest warning comes after increased discussion in Australia of potential conflict in the region.

Earlier this month former defence minister Christopher Pyne warned China could force a war in the Indo-Pacific in just a matter of years.

"The reality is that China is confident and capable and is not embarrassed to show it," he told University of Adelaide graduates.

Director of the Australia-China Relations Institute at UTS, James Laurenceson, told Crikey such discussion of potential conflict failed to offer any insight into the mass destruction it would bring as well as the deaths of millions, including Australians.

Treasurer defiant despite peace claims

On Thursday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg downplayed the significance of his colleague's remarks.

"Australia is a great beneficiary of peace," he told the ABC on Thursday.

"At the same time we want out national defence force to be well-resourced and as capable as possible."

Yet he once again stressed Australia would not kowtow to Beijing's demands at the expense of its national interests.

"With respect to our national interest we'll always continue to prosecute the case, whether that's foreign investment, whether that's human rights or other national security issues," he said.

Struggling Sino-Australian relations took another hit last week with the Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne's decision to veto Victoria's Belt and Road Initiative agreement with China.

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