China responds to 'despicable' act by former Australian PM

China has finally responded to former prime minister Tony Abbott's divisive visit to Taiwan this week, lambasting him as a "failed and pitiful politician".

Mr Abbott's trip in a personal capacity raised eyebrows here in Australia and in China, which strongly opposes Taiwan's push for independence.

Meeting President Tsai Ing-wen during his visit, he told a security forum that China may lash out with its economy slowing and finances "creaking".

He accused Beijing of being a bully and said Australia had been unfairly targeted, particularly the nation's trade sector.

Tony Abbott received a warm welcome in Taiwan. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC Taiwan
Tony Abbott received a warm welcome in Taiwan. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC Taiwan

It comes at a time of rising tensions between Taiwan and the mainland, with China stressing it will do what is necessary to achieve reunification, regardless of Taiwan's resistance. President Xi Jinping reiterated Beijing's position in an address on Saturday.

China has repeatedly warned other nations to avoid interfering with what it says are its internal matters which include matters surrounding Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

Australia, like most countries, has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but has joined its ally the United States in expressing concern at Chinese pressure, especially military.

While Mr Abbott's visit survived any mention from the typically sharp-tongued foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Friday, he did not escape a spray from China's embassy in Canberra on Saturday.

"Tony Abbott is a failed and pitiful politician," it said in a brief statement on its website.

'His recent despicable and insane performance in Taiwan fully exposed his hideous anti-China features. This will only further discredit him."

Mr Zhao did however have similar scathing words for French senator Alain Richard, who also visited Taiwan this week and labelled Taiwan a country and not the island province which China sees it.

"People like Richard either lack the most basic respect and understanding of international relations norms, or they kidnap state-to-state relations based on personal selfishness," he said.

Taiwan says it is an independent country and will defend itself if China attacks.

With Reuters

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