Australia has been on China’s tail ever since the global pandemic broke out. After the Scott Morison government pursued the Chinese incessantly despite being threatened with trade wars by Beijing, the Australian Ambassador to India Barry O’ Farrell has now come out swinging hard against the Chinese envoy to India.
A verbal spat ensued between the envoys of China and Australia on Twitter yesterday where the latter showed China its place.
It all started on Thursday when Barry met External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and after the meeting in a clear message to China, the envoy emphasised:
“Australia remains deeply concerned by actions in the South China Sea that are destabilising and could provoke escalation. On 23 July, Australia lodged a note with the UN Secretary General refuting China’s unlawful maritime claims in the South China Sea. It rejects China’s claim to historic rights and internal waters, its assertion of certain maritime zones, and its contention there is wide international recognition of its South China Sea sovereignty claims.”
“Australia urges restraint along the Line of Actual Control, & supports continued moves towards de-escalation. It's important that the bilaterally-agreed principles & norms that helped prevent escalation in the border areas over many decades continue to be observed.” pic.twitter.com/0SrdLP5AEg
— Indo-Pacific News (@IndoPac_Info) July 30, 2020
CCP, which doesn’t like being called out on international platforms, quickly took offence and Chinese ambassador to India Sun Weidong came up with a tweet and accused Australia for destabilization and provoking escalation in the region.
Noted remarks by Australian HC to India on #SouthChinaSea disregarding facts. #China's territorial sovereignty & maritime rights&interests are in conformity w/ int'l law incl UNCLOS. It's clear who safeguard peace&stability & who destablize&provoke escalation in the region.
— Sun Weidong (@China_Amb_India) July 31, 2020
Barry then came up with a tweet that debunked the Chinese envoy’s claims. “Thank you @China_Amb_India . I would hope then you follow the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Award which is final and binding under international law, and also generally refrain from actions that unilaterally alter the status quo.” tweeted the Australian envoy Barry O’Farrell.
Thank you @China_Amb_India. I would hope then you follow the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Award which is final and binding under international law, and also generally refrain from actions that unilaterally alter the status quo. https://t.co/1w2nrcrxhr
— Barry O’Farrell AO (@AusHCIndia) July 31, 2020
Barry was referring to the case between Philippines vs China, where the former had approached the tribunal arguing that China’s territorial claims in the region was unlawful.
In the end the case was ruled in favour of the Philippines with the tribunal ruling that China had “no historical rights” in the South China Sea based on the “nine-dash line” map.
Even after being presented the cold-hard facts, the Chinese envoy didn’t budge. Sun Weidong, true to his Chinese nature called the Arbitral Tribunal and its judgement illegal.
So-called arbitral tribunal of #SouthChinaSea violated principle of state consent. The award is illegal,null&void&has no binding force. China neither accepts nor recognizes it. We hope those non-claimant countries could contribute to regional peace&stability rather than contrary.
— Sun Weidong (@China_Amb_India) July 31, 2020
China claims sovereignty over all of South China Sea, a huge source of hydrocarbons. However, several countries in the region including Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei have competing claims.
The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had last month explained that the troops taken out of Germany were being sent to the South China Sea region to thwart any Chinese incursions. The US has already sent military ships near the disputed islands, and called Beijing’s claim over the region illegal.
Recently India, USA, Japan and Australia—the Quad had conducted naval exercises in the Indo-pacific region to send a strong message to China.
The Quad so far hasn’t proclaimed itself to be a military group but the changing dynamics of the region due to China’s misadventure has given indications that this group can certainly head down the path, in the future, if necessary. If India adds Australia to the Malabar Exercise later this year, then the Quad will be automatically seen as a military organisation or the Asian version of NATO and China cannot see that happen.
Australia has been at the forefront of targeting the paper dragon for its sinister handling of the entire Wuhan virus pandemic and the way Barry has called a spade for a spade shows that he has the full backing of Canberra to taken on China head-on.