Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Australia’s top diplomat calls for calm over Taiwan tensions

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong on Monday called for a cooling of tensions after Beijing accused her of “finger-pointing” in her criticism of China’s military exercises in response to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. “What is most critical at the moment is that the temperature is lowered and calm is restored when it comes to cross-strait tensions,” Wong told reporters. (https://news.yahoo.com/australia-calls-cooling-taiwan-strait-053852810.html) Wong criticized China’s launch of ballistic missiles during the ongoing air and sea drills around Taiwan, which Beijing claims as part of its territory. She also signed a joint statement with the United States and Japan on Saturday that condemned firing of missiles into Japanese exclusive economic zones and accused China of “raising tension and destabilizing the region.” The Chinese Embassy in Australia replied to the trilateral statement, saying: “It is absolutely unacceptable for the finger-pointing on China’s justified actions to safeguard state sovereignty and territorial integrity.” The embassy accused Australia of doing the bidding of the United States, which China described as the “biggest saboteur and destabilizer of peace in the Taiwan Strait and the biggest troublemaker to regional stability.” Wong declined to comment on the state of the Sino-Australian relationship following Pelosi’s visit last week. Beijing had signaled a potential reset in the relationship following the new Australian government’s election in May. Relations had plumbed new depths during the previous government’s nine years in power.

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