Former Australian PM calls for solidarity with Taiwan

Australia’s former prime minister has accused China of being a bully and expressed enthusiastic support for Taiwan while visiting the democratically ruled island

Via AP news wire
Friday 08 October 2021 04:25
Taiwan Australia
Taiwan Australia

Australia’s former prime minister has accused China of being a bully and expressed enthusiastic support for Taiwan while visiting the democratically ruled island.

“Nothing is more pressing right now than solidarity with Taiwan," former Prime Minister Tony Abbott told a conference Friday in Taiwan.

China’s government has been seeking to isolate Taiwan, which it claims as its own territory. It has stepped up military harassment of the island by flying fighter jets towards Taiwan, with a particularly large demonstration of force starting last Friday and continuing into this week.

Abbott’s comments were to a conference organized by a think-tank backed by the Taiwan government. The Australian government has said his visit to Taiwan is unofficial.

Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen launched the forum with a more restrained speech, omitting any direct mention of China.

She did not mention China, but rather said “Taiwan is fully committed to collaborating with regional players to prevent armed conflict in the South China Sea and in the Taiwan Strait.”

Abbott said that two years ago, he hesitated to attend the meeting, called the Yushan Forum, for fear of provoking Beijing.

China until recently was Australia's biggest market for exports of coal and other commodities.

Things have changed since then, he said, with Beijing tightening controls over Hong Kong and “weaponizing” trade against Australia.

Beijing has imposed high tariffs against Australian wine, coal, and barley in response to Australia’s call for a probe into the origins of the coronavirus which was first reported in Wuhan in December 2019, essentially shutting down imports of these products.

Abbott said the Chinese Embassy in Australia had issued a list of demands that essentially demanded “we become a tributary state.”

“Be a friend, and you’ll have friends, be a bully and you’ll only have clients who can’t wait to escape," Abbott said.

He added, though, that “collaboration is still possible, and trust could yet be rebuilt.”

Abbott said the most important thing is to ensure Taiwan's self-determination; Chinese leaders have said they are determined to unite the island and the mainland, by force if necessary.

“Our challenge is to try and ensure that the unthinkable remains unlikely and that the possible does not become the probable," Abbott said.

“That’s why Taiwan’s friends are so important now, to stress that Taiwan’s future should be decided by its own people and to let Beijing know any attempt at coercion would have incalculable consequences.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in