Monday, March 13, 2017
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop delivers warning to China on need to embrace democracy
PHOTO: Julie Bishop is in Singapore to promote Australia's relationships with key partners in Southeast Asia. (Twitter: @JulieBishopMP)
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has warned China it can only reach its full economic potential if it further embraces democracy.
Speaking in Singapore on Monday night Ms Bishop strongly defended democratic institutions and regional norms, while reaffirming the Australian Government's view that the "United States must play an even greater role as the indispensable strategic power in the Indo-Pacific".
"It is the pre-eminent global strategic power in Asia and the world by some margin," Ms Bishop told the International Institute of Strategic Studies.
"It is a country which does not have territorial disputes with other countries in the region."
Ms Bishop, who recently met with US Vice-President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisor HR McMaster, argued that the region was in a "strategic holding pattern and waiting to see whether the US and its security allies and partners can continue to play the robust and constructive role they have for many decades in preserving the peace".
In an address titled 'Change and Uncertainty in the Indo-Pacific' the Foreign Minister urged ASEAN members to champion democratic norms and institutions in the region.
During her Fullerton lecture Ms Bishop also sent an unusually blunt message to Beijing about the importance of democratic institutions.
"While it is appropriate for different states to discover their own pathway leading toward political reform, history shows that embrace of liberal democratic institutions is the most successful foundation for nations seeking economic prosperity and social stability," Ms Bishop said.
"While non-democracies such as China can thrive when participating in the present system, an essential pillar of our preferred order is democratic community."
"Domestic democratic habits of negotiating and compromise are essential to powerful countries resolving their disagreements according to international law and rules.
The Foreign Minister's comments come just days before Chinese Premier Li Kequiang is scheduled to visit Australia.