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Diplomacy with China shows weaknesses (PM) | Blue Mountains Gazette

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said there will be no diplomatic thaw in relations with China until it lifts the deadlock on ministerial meetings.

“As long as China continues to refuse to engage with Australian ministers and the prime minister, I think that’s a very proportional response,” Mr Morrison told reporters on Saturday regarding his meeting with the Chinese ambassador. .

“It would be a show of weakness and I can assure you as prime minister that this is the last message I would send to China.

The comments follow the superpower’s signing of a security agreement with the Solomon Islands, which was leaked on social media on Friday, allowing its ships to be based in the Pacific and to have a naval base.

The deal has sparked geopolitical worries for Australia and the United States, both wary of China’s expansionist footprint in the region.

“China has completely blocked any dialogue between ministers,” the prime minister said.

“Until…that bloc is removed by China, well, I think the Australians would consider it highly inappropriate for me to engage in this dialogue with an ambassador.”

Mr Morrison also defended his government’s record of foreign aid to Pacific nations in a pointed message to his predecessor Kevin Rudd, calling his criticisms “outright lies”.

“We actually increased our investment in overseas development aid in the Pacific by 50%… while (Labour) sought votes for the Security Council by throwing money at countries far from our region,” he said.

In a statement released on Friday, the Solomon Islands said “expanding partnerships are necessary to improve the quality of life of our people and address the soft and hard security threats facing the country.”

Australia will allocate $22 million in the next budget to the Solomon Islands government to fund the wages of essential workers to deal with the effects of civil unrest and COVID.

The archipelago transferred its diplomatic relations from Taiwan to Beijing in 2019, which in part led to deadly riots in the capital Honiara last November.

Australia, which has always provided security for the Solomons, carried out a police mission after the riots, following a request from Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

A spokesman for the US State Department said the draft security agreement and the agreement with the police did not address the underlying issues that contributed to the November unrest.

“We don’t believe that the (People’s Republic of China) security forces and their methods should be exported,” the spokesperson added.

“It would only fuel local, regional and international concerns about Beijing’s unilateral expansion of its internal security apparatus in the Pacific.”

Last month, Washington announced it would open an embassy in Honiara, fearing that China was seeking to strengthen its military ties there.

Australian Associated Press