Thursday, April 19, 2018

‘Clumsy’ rhetoric sparks tension with China: Penny Wong

‘Clumsy’ rhetoric sparks tension with China: Penny Wong

Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong. Picture: AAP.
Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong. Picture: AAP.
    Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong says the government’s “clumsy” language against China has created more tensions than necessary with Australia’s biggest trading partner.
    Senator Wong said she supported the substance of the government’s actions in safeguarding Australia from foreign interference but argued the tone and language had been poor.
    It came after China’s ambassador to Australia warned in an interview with The Australian that the relationship between the two countries has been marred by “systematic, irresponsible and negative remarks” about China, and trading ties could be damaged if the situation is not repaired.
    Minister for International Development Concetta Fierravanti-Wells. Picture: AAP.
    Minister for International Development Concetta Fierravanti-Wells. Picture: AAP.
    “I think we saw the Prime Minister engage in language which was unnecessary towards the end of last year. We saw the then Deputy Prime Minister Mr Joyce make some irresponsible remarks suggesting that China was a worse threat than the terrorists. We have seen clumsy language from Connie Fierravanti-Wells,” Senator Wong told Sky News.
    “Every government, every Australian government of both political persuasions has had to manage differences with China. We are seeing that this government’s management of those differences has been characterised by too much clumsiness in recent times.”
    Senator Wong said the government needed to be better at managing the different interests of Australia while maintaining good relations with China.
    “The government needs to become better and less clumsy at managing differences in the relationship,” she said.
    “It’s not a new thing for Australia’s national interest to be different to China’s national interest. That has historically been so and will continue to be so over time. There are times we agree and there times we disagree, it is always so.
    “How you manage that at a political level is important and I think the one factor I have observed in these last months is the tone and language from some of our political leaders has been unfortunate.”