'We won't compromise': PM issues fierce warning to China about discussions

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reiterated his robust stance on relationship-saving discussions with China.

Chinese officials in recent months have called on Australia to make significant concessions on a series of matters Australia has angered China on if they wish for relations to improve amid a trade feud which has seen a raft of Australian exports slapped with sanctions.

Yet on Monday, Mr Morrison once again warned China his government would not “compromise Australia’s sovereignty”.

“We will remain absolutely open and available to meet, to discuss, any of the issues that have been identified,” Mr Morrison told reporters.

Scott Morrison speaks at a press conference.
Scott Morrison has warned China Australia will not compromise on its principles. Source: AAP

“But those discussions, as I've made clear, won't take place on the base of any sort of pre-emptive concessions on Australia's part on those matters.

“I don't think that any Australian would want their Prime Minister to be conceding the points that they've set out.”

The Communist Party of China has taken umbrage with Australia over several issues.

China has accused Australia of interfering in internal matters involving Hong Kong, Taiwan and Xinjiang, while it has refuted Australia’s decision to block multiple Chinese investments on the grounds of protecting national security.

Beijing was also enraged last year when Mr Morrison called for an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.

Mr Morrison denied to The Australian over the weekend his calls for an investigation triggered the wave of trade sanctions, however his actions are widely believed to have accelerated the fallout.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi last month said he wished the relationship would improve as quickly as possible, with Mr Morrison saying on Monday he believes the relationship to be as important to China as it is to Australia.

Yet China has been stubborn in its approach, regularly calling out Australia in a new era of diplomacy for Beijing often described as ‘wolf warrior diplomacy’.

Albanese calls on Morrison to seek help

Newly appointed Trade Minister Dan Tehan has reached out to his counterparts in China in a bid to restart discussions – a feat his predecessor Simon Birmingham failed to do.

On Monday, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese called on Mr Morrison to engage with and use the expertise of former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and John Howard to liaise with Beijing.

Mr Rudd, who is fluent in Mandarin, is an expert on China relations and is the president of the Asia Society Policy Institute, while Mr Howard enjoyed a successful economic relationship with Beijing during his time in office.

Mr Morrison said he had recently engaged with both former prime ministers.

“I'm always open to those who are experienced in these areas and both of those former prime ministers are experienced in those areas,” he said.

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