China-Australia tensions reach crisis point – Beijing warns South China Sea is ours

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In addition to the threat from China, Beijing’s military also conducted night-time drill with bomber planes over the South China Sea. Australia had previously submitted a statement to the United Nations claiming any land claims by China in the region as illegal. In response, China issued a stern warning to Australia accusing the country of “violating international law” this week.

In their response to the UN, China said: “Australia’s wrongful acts of ignoring the basic facts on the South China Sea issues and denying China’s land territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea have violated international law and basic principles of international relations, including the Charter of the United Nations.”

China has claimed several island chains such as the Paracels and Spratly islands as its own under the ‘nine dash line’ policy.

Under this policy, China views several areas as its own under previous historical claims.

Tensions between Australia and China have soured following the former’s criticism of the new security law and the ban on Huawei in the 5G network.

Amid a rise in naval arms in the South China Sea, Australia and the US held high-level talks in Washington.

From these talks, the two sides pledged to cooperate in defence and security in the region against China.

To combat Beijing’s growing influence in the important shipping region, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo signalled an intent for more naval drills in the South China Sea.

He said: “In the Indo-Pacific, Australia declared China’s South China Sea claims unlawful and illegitimate, as have we.

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“We’re proud to have stepped up maritime manoeuvres in that body of water alongside our friends from Australia and Japan and the United Kingdom.”

A trilateral exercise was also held by the US, Japan and Australia last week due to China’s hard-line stance on the global stage.

With an increased focus on China’s actions, Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang accused Washington of pushing for discord in the South China Sea.

He said: “China has indisputable sovereignty over South China Sea islands and their adjacent waters, which has full historical and legal basis.

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“At present, with the joint efforts of China and Asian countries, the situation in the South China Sea is generally stable, and positive progress has been made in relevant consultations.

“China urges the US to stop making false remarks, stop taking provocative military actions, and stop sowing discord among countries in the region.

“The attempts made by the US concerning the South China Sea can only make China more firmly defend its own sovereignty and security, and to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.

“Ignoring historical and objective facts on the South China Sea issue, the US side has flagrantly violated its own commitment to not taking a side on the sovereignty claims of the South China Sea, wilfully and groundlessly criticised China, sowed discord among countries in the region and even conducted dual-carrier operations in the South China Sea.

“These have fully exposed the ‘hegemonic mentality’ and double standards of the US.”

As well as Australia and the US, Malaysia has also labelled China’s maritime claims as illegal.

They too regard the nine-dash line policy illegal under maritime law.

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