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‘Unbearable consequences’: China issues barbed warning to Australia

Chinese state media has taken aim at ‘reckless’ and ‘hypocritical’ Australia, with diplomatic relations at their lowest point in decades.

The authoritarian regime accused Australia of ‘disregarding basic facts’ following last week’s 30th Australia–US Ministerial Consultations, and warned Scott Morrison would face ‘unbearable consequences’.

One newspaper, a mouthpiece for the communist government, warned Australia’s friendship with the US was equivalent to ‘walking on tightrope’ – and the country ‘can’t afford to fall off’. 

The high-level talks between President Donald Trump‘s top diplomats and Australia’s foreign and defence ministers was seen as a turning point in the relationship between China and the west. 

A joint statement by Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds and US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, called out China for its growing aggression.

Tensions between Australia and China have escalated significantly since Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured) called for an independent international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic

Tensions between Australia and China have escalated significantly since Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured) called for an independent international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic

President Xi Jinping (pictured) and the Communist Party reacted with outrage

President Xi Jinping (pictured) and the Communist Party reacted with outrage

Tensions between Scott Morrison (pictured, left) and Chinese president Xi Jinping (right) have escalated significantly since the prime minister called for a coronavirus inquiry

A joint statement blasted the communist party for human right abuses against its Uyghur population, the erosion of democratic freedoms in Hong Kong and their ‘unlawful’ claims over territory in the South China Sea.

In the days that followed, Chinese state media mouthpieces and its embassy in Canberra responded with outrage.

‘We firmly reject and oppose the unfounded accusations and attacks against China on issues related to Hong Kong, Xinjiang and the South China Sea made in the recent Joint Statement of Australia-US Ministerial Consultations,’ a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Australia said.

‘Their assertions, in disregard of basic facts, violated international law and basic norms governing international relations and grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs.’

A major issue dividing China and the west is Beijing's presence in the disputed South China Sea. Pictured: A Chinese Navy member stands in front of the Shandong aircraft carrier

A major issue dividing China and the west is Beijing's presence in the disputed South China Sea. Pictured: A Chinese Navy member stands in front of the Shandong aircraft carrier

A major issue dividing China and the west is Beijing’s presence in the disputed South China Sea. Pictured: A Chinese Navy member stands in front of the Shandong aircraft carrier

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne (left) and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (right) are pictured together as they meet for the 30th Australia¿US Ministerial Consultations

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne (left) and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (right) are pictured together as they meet for the 30th Australia¿US Ministerial Consultations

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne (left) and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (right) are pictured together as they meet for the 30th Australia–US Ministerial Consultations

Outspoken nationalist news site the Global Times said Australia’s ‘reckless’ behaviour would result in ‘unbearable consequences’.

‘Australia has taken the leading role in cooperating with US’s anti-China actions, including on topics regarding Huawei and the South China Sea.

‘Australia wants to play a role as the US’s deputy sheriff in the Asia-Pacific region or a crucial role in the US’ Indo-Pacific Strategy.

‘It is dancing with the US in step on containing China while hoping to fool China or make its provocations tolerable.

‘Australia, as an opportunist, would not climb to a more important position in the region as it has always longed for, but will face unbearable consequences by undermining its ties with China.’

The Global Times describes Australia’s new tone against Beijing as a ‘gamble’ which is jeopardising China-Australia ties.

Pictured: Indian protesters shout slogans and burn the image of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Tensions have flared between the two nations following a deadly border shoush

Pictured: Indian protesters shout slogans and burn the image of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Tensions have flared between the two nations following a deadly border shoush

Pictured: Indian protesters shout slogans and burn the image of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Tensions have flared between the two nations following a deadly border shoush

‘Being loyal to a failed leadership – the US with its failed governance and system fully exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic – Australia would find itself walking on a tightrope and cannot afford the price of falling off.’

Tensions between Canberra and Beijing have escalated significantly since Mr Morrison called for an independent international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic back in April.

Since then, China has brought in harsh trade tariffs which hit Australian farmers, including an 80 per cent tariff on barley.

Despite threatening further economic sanctions against Australia, the Chinese Embassy statement said: ‘We are firmly committed to maintaining regional peace and stability.’

‘We urge Australia not to go further on the road of harming China-Australia relations, and truly proceeding from its own interests, do more things that are conducive to mutual trust and co-operation between the two countries,’ the statement said.

At the centre of the diplomatic spat are China’s new national security laws brought in to silence pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

Riot police pin down a protester during a demonstration following the passing of China's National Security Law on July 1 (pictured)

Riot police pin down a protester during a demonstration following the passing of China's National Security Law on July 1 (pictured)

Riot police pin down a protester during a demonstration following the passing of China’s National Security Law on July 1 (pictured)

A woman points her finger at police officers during a protest in a shopping mall in Hong Kong, China, July 6 (pictured)

A woman points her finger at police officers during a protest in a shopping mall in Hong Kong, China, July 6 (pictured)

A woman points her finger at police officers during a protest in a shopping mall in Hong Kong, China, July 6 (pictured)

Riot police secure an area inside a shopping mall during a rally on July 21 in Hong Kong (pictured)

Riot police secure an area inside a shopping mall during a rally on July 21 in Hong Kong (pictured)

Riot police secure an area inside a shopping mall during a rally on July 21 in Hong Kong (pictured)

Hong Kong National Security Laws 

Anyone thought to be advocating for secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces can face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Vandalism can be considered an act of terrorism.

Anyone found guilty of protest-related crimes is banned from running for public office.

Beijing law enforcement will operate in Hong Kong in violation of the One ‘Country, Two Systems’ framework.

Judicial autonomy will be eroded with the appointment of judges from Beijing.

Anyone suspected of breaking National Security Laws can be arbitrarily put under surveillance.

The Chinese Communist Party will interpret how these wide-sweeping laws will be enforced.

Trials can be held in secret.

Freedom of the press will be eroded with news agencies to be monitored by Chinese authorities.

Anyone outside of Hong Kong who is not a resident can also be prosecuted under the new laws.

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Australia and the US said the ‘sweeping and vague’ legislation has imperiled the rule of law and undermined the rights to freedom of expression, including for members of the press, and to peaceful assembly.

Canberra has now suspended their extradition treaties with Hong Kong along with the UK, Canada and New Zealand and the US is also likely to follow suit.

Another major issue souring the relationship is China’s presence in the disputed South China Sea.

Beijing claims the shipping lane rich in fish and natural gas reserves as their own, but earlier this week Australia filed a motion to the United Nations declaring China’s conduct ‘unlawful’.

Beijing claims the shipping lane rich in fish and natural gas reserves as their own, but earlier this week Australia filed a motion to the United Nations declaring China's conduct 'unlawful'.

Beijing claims the shipping lane rich in fish and natural gas reserves as their own, but earlier this week Australia filed a motion to the United Nations declaring China's conduct 'unlawful'.

Beijing claims the shipping lane rich in fish and natural gas reserves as their own, but earlier this week Australia filed a motion to the United Nations declaring China’s conduct ‘unlawful’.

A US Navy aircraft carries out Freedom of Navigation Exercises in the South China Sea as fighter jets fly over in formation (pictured on July 6)

A US Navy aircraft carries out Freedom of Navigation Exercises in the South China Sea as fighter jets fly over in formation (pictured on July 6)

A US Navy aircraft carries out Freedom of Navigation Exercises in the South China Sea as fighter jets fly over in formation (pictured on July 6)

‘In line with the 2016 decision of the Arbitral Tribunal, they affirmed that Beijing’s maritime claims are not valid under international law,’ The AUSMIN statement said.

‘Specifically, they affirmed that the People’s Republic of China cannot assert maritime claims in the South China Sea based on the ‘nine-dash line,’ ‘historic rights,’ or entire South China Sea island groups, which are incompatible with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.’

The Communist Party’s treatment of its Muslim population in the northwestern province of Xinjiang is also driving a wedge between China and the west.

‘The US and Australia expressed deep concern over People’s Republic of China’s campaign of repression of Uyghurs and members of other minority groups in Xinjiang, including mass detentions, forced labor, pervasive surveillance, restrictions on freedom of religion, and reports of forced abortions and involuntary birth control,’ the joint AUSMIN statement said.

Who are the Chinese Muslims?

Muslims are not a new presence in China. Most of China’s Muslim communities, including the Hui, Uighurs and Kazakhs, have lived in China for more than 1,000 years, according to fact tank Pew Research Center

The largest concentrations of Muslims today are in the western provinces of Xinjiang, Ningxia, Qinghai and Gansu. 

A substantial number of Muslims live in the cities of Beijing, Xi’an, Tianjin and Shanghai. 

Chinese Muslim men take part in gathering for the celebration of the Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha, or the Muslim Feast of the Sacrifice, at the Niu Jie mosque in Beijing, China

Chinese Muslim men take part in gathering for the celebration of the Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha, or the Muslim Feast of the Sacrifice, at the Niu Jie mosque in Beijing, China

Chinese Muslim men take part in gathering for the celebration of the Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha, or the Muslim Feast of the Sacrifice, at the Niu Jie mosque in Beijing, China

They make up about two per cent of the 1.4 billion population in China. However, as the country is so populous, its Muslim population is expected to be the 19th largest in the world in 2030.

The Muslim population in China is projected to increase from 23.3 million in 2010 to nearly 30 million in 2030.

Those who grow up and live in places dominated by the Han Chinese have little knowledge about Islam – or religions in general – thus view it as a threat. 

Beijing’s policymakers are predominately Han. 

At the same time, radical Muslim Uighurs have killed hundreds in recent years, causing China to implement even more extreme measures to quash potential separatist movements.

Uighurs in particular have long been used to heavy-handed curbs on dress, religious practice and travel after a series of deadly riots in 2009 in Urumqi, according to the Financial Times.

Schoolchildren were banned from fasting during Ramadan and attending religious events while parents were banned from giving newborns Muslim names such as ‘Mohammed’ and ‘Jihad’. 

Certain symbols of Islam, such as beards and the veil, were also forbidden. Women with face-covering veils are sometimes not allowed on buses. Unauthorised pilgrimages to Mecca were also restricted. 

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Source: Daily Mail AU

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