'So much at stake': PM’s chilling warning on ‘conflict’ with China

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·News Reporter
·3-min read
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Prime Minister Scott Morrison will call on world leaders to stand in unison against the growing threat of China.

Mr Morrison will on Wednesday deliver a major foreign policy speech ahead of a trip to the United Kingdom, where he will be a guest at a meeting of world economic powers including the US, Germany and France.

Speaking at the Perth's USAsia Centre, he will warn other democracies the world is at threat of coercion while an international rules-based order is at serious risk.

“There is much at stake for Australia, for our region, and the world. We are living in a time of great uncertainty not seen since the 1930s," he will say.

“We need all nations to participate in the ­global system in ways that foster development and co-operation.

“Australia stands ready to engage in dialogue with all countries on shared challenges."

He said his door was open to China if they were ready to engage on the threats posed globally. 

Yet such discussions appear unlikely and as tensions continue to flare in the Indo-Pacific, particularly in the South China Sea, Mr Morrison will again warn of the possibility of conflict

Scott Morrison in front of two Australian flags at a press conference.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will deliver another strong message to China on Wednesday. Source: Getty

"The risks of miscalculation and conflict are growing. And the technological edge enjoyed historically by Australia and our allies is under challenge."

His speech will come after his government last month faced accusations of unnecessarily stoking tensions with Beijing by talking up the potential of military conflict.

Mr Morrison has been unrelenting with his rebuke of China's request for concessions relating to Australia's position on several matters including Chinese investment in Australia.

Beijing has slapped trade sanctions on multiple Australian exports in retaliation to Canberra's combative stance, to which Mr Morrison will say cannot continue.

"The most practical way to address economic coercion is the restoration of the global trading body’s binding dispute settlement system," he will say.

“Where there are no consequences for coercive behaviour, there is little incentive for restraint.”

Xi Jinping has told the army to prepare for military combat amid the pandemic. Source: AFP via Getty
Mr Morrison is wary of China's rise under Xi Jinping. Source: AFP via Getty

PM to once again pursue virus investigation

In a move that will undoubtedly enrage Beijing further, Mr Morrison will back US President Joe Biden's push to bolster and accelerate efforts to identify the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Morrison government's strong support for an inquiry into the disease angered Beijing last year and accelerated the fallout between the two countries.

"Having led calls for an independent inquiry, it remains Australia's firm view that understanding the cause of this pandemic is essential for preventing the next one, for the benefit of all people," Mr Morrison will say.

The controversial theory the virus leaked from a the Wuhan Institute of Virology has gathered momentum once again in recent weeks, and while Mr Morrison will not directly refer to the hypothesis, it will put further doubt on the findings of the joint mission in Wuhan earlier this year.

And in what appears to be a swipe at China's pursuit of projects that pose as lucrative deals for poorer nations, particularly Australia's neighbours, Mr Morrison will stress the importance of helping nations not land themselves in crippling dept.

"Projects should be high quality - and affordable," he is expected to say.

"They should meet real need, and deliver sustainable economic benefits. And they should not compromise countries' resilience or sovereignty."

With AAP

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