Published: Tue, October 15, 2019

Senior Australian minister says China is behaving badly, draws rebuke

Senior Australian minister says China is behaving badly, draws rebuke

The home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, has launched a swingeing attack on the Chinese Communist party, accusing it of engineering a series of cyber-attacks on Australian targets, stealing intellectual property and muzzling free speech. Dutton said China's actions on the global stage often conflicted with Australian values and were incompatible with democratic forms of government. Mining giant Glencore Plc earlier this year blamed the dispute for delays to coal imports, while Australian beef and wine suppliers have said frictions led to their products being held up at Chinese ports.

Dutton's comments are, by some margin, the strongest criticism of the Chinese government by a serving Australian minister.

"Our issue, as I've said before, is not with the Chinese people, not with the awesome Chinese diaspora community that we have here in Australia".

While Mr Dutton acknowledged the important trading relationship between the two countries, he said Australia is not going to allow university students to be unduly influenced by China, the theft of intellectual property or the hacking of government or non-government organisations. "Such ridiculous rhetoric severely harms the mutual trust between China and Australia and betrays the common interests of the two peoples".

The Australian Prime Minister is on a two-day visit to Fiji, where he watched the Australian Prime Minister's XIII matches yesterday and today he will be visiting the Blackrock Training Camp in Nadi.

"Minister Dutton has clearly made a decision to push the Morrison Government towards a much more hard-line approach to relations with Communist China", Senator Patrick said.

"Which means our friendship and partnership with countries like Fiji, in our own backyard, is even more important".

"Our relationship with China will always remain positive, because it is focused on the things that we agree on and that benefit each country", Morrison told reporters Saturday on a visit to Suva, Fiji. "Of course, there are clear differences, they are different countries with different systems".

Labor MP Peter Khalil declared Mr Dutton was "clumsily talking tough".

"Frankly, this Coalition Government has absolutely botched the relationship with China".

"There's something called diplomacy, there's something called diplomatic language", he said.

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