One of the Australian government’s most senior ministers has said China’s conduct in the region is pushing Asian countries closer to the allegiances with the US.
In comments reported at the Wall Street Journal, Turnbull told a security and economic conference at the Australian National University that the “Chinese policy has been… to muscle up to one or other of its neighbors, or all of its neighbors at different times”.
He described this as “counterproductive” and said: “It really is extraordinary to see the Vietnamese being pushed closer and closer to the United States in strategic terms. That’s remarkable. That is quite an achievement for viewers of history.”
Earlier this year there were a series of violent demonstrations in Vietnam over a Chinese oil rig drilling in a disputed part of the South China Sea.
China has also been in a tense stand-off with Japan over air defence zones above disputed islands.
Turnbull’s assessment of the recent conduct of China, Australia’s largest trading partner, was blunt.
“It has really no allies in the region, apart from North Korea, the sort of ally you need when you’ve run out of enemies I suppose,” Turnbull said, according to the WSJ report. “And the consequence has been how China’s neighbors are drawing closer to the United States than ever before.”
The comments from Turnbull come just weeks after he was drawn into a round of speculation about his leadership ambitions, with conservative commentators Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones accusing him of destabilising Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
There’s more at the WSJ.
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