A Republican senator in the US has called for Australia to stand up and be counted in a bid to stop China’s mission for “world domination”.
Rick Scott, senator for Florida who serves on the committee of armed forces, is a known critic of the Communist Party of China and told The Sydney Morning Herald democracies around the world need to join the US in a developing cold war with China.
"Every democracy needs to stand up for what they believe in. If you believe in fair trade, that's not what China believes in. If you believe in human rights, that's not what China believes in,” he said.
“They believe in world domination by the Communist Party of China. The way I look at it is that the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party [Xi Jinping] has made a decision to have a cold war against the United States and democracies around the world.”
Relations between China and Australia have become increasingly strained in recent weeks, and have dramatically deteriorated after the Morrison government called for an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.
In what has become an ugly back-and-forth, China has accused Australia of siding with the US, a nation which has also repeatedly clashed with the Asian powerhouse since the virus’s outbreak.
Mr Scott praised Australia’s stance over China matters, saying he “admires” the government’s push for transparency over COVID-19’s origins.
“Australia, like America, has been working to hold China accountable. I'm very appreciative of Australia's push to get the facts, live in reality and hold people accountable for their actions."
Chinese state media publication The Global Times on Monday expressed fears that Australia was joining forces with India, after Prime Minister Scott Morrison met virtually with Indian PM Narendra Modi before agreeing to a strategic partnership that included defence.
The publication said the decision only “intensifies frictions between Beijing and Canberra”.
The move furthers the resurgence of the Security Quadrilateral Dialogue, known as the Quad, between Australia, the US, India and Japan as the nations strengthen their military cooperation amid China’s growing political ambition globally.
In a continually complex relationship, tensions have flared once again in the long-lasting feud between India and China over its disputed border.
In recent days China has flexed its military muscle with a series of military-related video shared online while boasting of its readiness for combat.
And last week, a group of 19 MPs from eight countries formed a coalition in a push for their governments to take a tougher stance on China.
Among them were Australian MPs Liberal Andrew Hastie and Labor Senator Kimberley Kitching.
When asked if their involvement would deteriorate Australia’s relationship with China further, Mr Morrison said they were free to do as they please.
“It's a free country, a free Parliament, and we have got members of Parliament from both sides of politics expressing their views,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“That's what Australia is all about, that’s who we are, that’s what we do. I think that's something we celebrate.”
China responds to ‘absurd’ virus suggestion
Amid the persistent scrutiny China has faced over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak in its infancy, new research from Harvard Medical School claims hospital and medical issue-related search engine traffic surged as early as late August, into September and October in Wuhan.
And while a research paper says it cannot link the increase directly to the virus, it says such findings support other work that suggests the emergence of the virus before its identification at Wuhan’s Huanan seafood market in either November or December.
At the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s daily press conference on Tuesday, spokesperson Hua Chunying was quick to dismiss such a theory.
“I think it's outrageously absurd if anyone comes to such conclusion only based on superficial elements like the traffic patterns,” she said.
“On this matter, I believe we should respect science.”
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