Julie Bishop Poked The Bear

Xi Jinping-China Getty/pool

China had some harsh words for Australia after the foreign affairs minister expressed her disappointment over its new air defence zone in the East China Sea.

Julie Bishop called China’s ambassador to Australia for an explanation of why the air defence zone — which covers a set of disputed islands — had been established.

She later issued a statement saying Australia had expressed its “disappointment”.

In response, China says Australia must “immediately correct its mistake, so as to avoid damaging China-Australia relations”.

Now the Abbott government is facing a new diplomatic headache, as it seeks to calm relations with Indonesia after a spying scandal.

A spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry made it clear Australia’s biggest trading partner was unhappy with Bishop’s actions.

From ABC News:

“Australia’s irresponsible statements on the East Sea air defence identification zone are completely mistaken; China cannot accept them.”

The new air defence zone covers a set of uninhabited islands at the centre of a dispute between Japan and China.

Japan has nationalised what it calls the Senkaku Islands, and said it will not concede control to China, where they are known as the Diaoyu Islands.

The dispute has seen the two countries on the verge of possible conflict, with Japan fueled by a new era of nationalism, and China flexing its military might in the region.

According to Fairfax Media, Bishop’s office said it would not be retracting the comments and expected they would be a topic of conversation on the foreign minister’s upcoming trip to China.

There’s more here.

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