'We will never’: Dutton's frank warning to China over demands

·News Reporter
·3-min read

Defence Minister Peter Dutton has ruled out Australia entertaining China's highly-publicised 14-point dossier requesting concessions from Canberra.

Beijing has repeatedly stressed Canberra must be the one to act to improve battered Sino-Australian relations, and last year issued to Australian media a list of grievances the Morrison government must amend if relations were to improve.

But the Australian government has firmly rejected such requests, insisting Australia will never jeopardise its sovereignty. 

Peter Dutton said while he wants Australia's relationship with China to improve, there would be no concessions on Australia's part. Source: ABC
Peter Dutton said while he wants Australia's relationship with China to improve, there would be no concessions on Australia's part. Source: ABC

On Tuesday, Mr Dutton, in the midst of a personal war-of-words with China, ruled out any possibility Australia would seek to appease Beijing.

"The Chinese government has delivered to Australia a list of 14 requirements for us to meet before that relationship is normalised including giving up essentially freedom of speech, and many of our democratic rights which we will never do as a sovereign nation," he told ABC's 7.30.

Among the grievances, issued last November, were blocking Chinese investment in Australia including Huawei’s 5G rollout and the Belt and Road Initiative, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s vocal stance on investigations into the origins of Covid-19, interference with “internal matters” such as Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang and its funding for “anti-China” research led by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. 

Australia mustn't ignore China threat, Dutton warns

Host Leigh Sales pressed Mr Dutton on talking up potential military conflict in the Indo-Pacific in relation to China's push to reunify Taiwan, asking if Australians really wanted to commit to actively defending Taiwan.

"I think if you look at what's happening in the Indo-Pacific at the moment and you see the ramping up by the Communist Party of China, we need to be realistic about the threat now and over the course of the next couple of decades," Mr Dutton said.

"There's no sense in sticking your head in the sand pretending it's not happening."

He listed several "concerning events" China is embroiled in including its behaviour in the disputed South China Sea, in justifying his recent remarks.

In response to suggestions he was using China as an opportunity to gain political advantage domestically, he said he doesn't believe "being dishonest with the Australian people was in our national interests".

dutton zhao
Mr Dutton has been heavily criticised by Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian. Source: Getty/ FMPRC

Mr Dutton once again faced the wrath of China's foreign ministry on Monday for his remarks about China's acting ambassador to Australia, Wang Xining.

On Friday Mr Dutton labelled Mr Wang's interview with Guardian Australia where he criticised the AUKUS nuclear submarine deal "so silly, it's funny".

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian branded Mr Dutton's remarks "extremely absurd and irresponsible".

He has riled Beijing before, with Mr Zhao suggesting Mr Dutton was "wishing for trouble" for hyping up the threat of military conflict in September.

Last year, Mr Wang told reporters Beijing is seeking “concrete actions” from the Morrison government in order to rebuild the damaged relationship.

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