The visit to Taiwan by federal backbenchers has been met with ire by Beijing, but Australia is adamant the trip is “the resumption of normal practice”.
Six backbenchers from Labor, Liberal and the National parties, including former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce, are in Taiwan this week.
Beijing mouthpiece the Global Times has slammed Anthony Albanese for failing to oppose the visit and says it undermines any reparations to the damaged relationship between China and Australia.
The Prime Minister has played down the significance of the visit and insisted it was not a government visit.
Opposition foreign affairs spokesperson Simon Birmingham echoed Mr Albanese’s sentiments and called for calm.
Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham says the visit to Taiwan is ‘business as usual’. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman
“These sorts of delegation visits are not at all uncommon. This is really the resumption of normal practice following the shutdown during the Covid period,” Senator Birmingham told ABC Radio.
“It is essentially to understand better Australia’s relations, particularly in this case economic ties, with an economy like Taiwan.
“The only message (this) should send to anybody is that Australia is getting back on with business as usual in the post Covid shutdown era.
“No more, or no less, should be read into it.”
China thinks otherwise, writing the visit would “cast a shadow” on efforts to thaw relations between Australia and China.
China has warned Australia the delegation to Taiwan undermines their relationship. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
“Considering Albanese’s vague and cop-out remarks which will undoubtedly encourage the arrogance of anti-China forces and pro-Taiwan secessionist forces in Australia, there is a big question mark hanging over Australia’s sincerity on improving its relations with China,” the Global Times said.
“Those who play by fire will perish by it. The politicians from certain countries who visit Taiwan to seek limelight are like political god (sic) of plague and pestilence.
“They bring nothing but risks and tension to Taiwan and no benefit to their own country. They also hijack their own country’s China policy.”
Both Labor and the Coalition have pledge bipartisanship support to continue their One China policy.
Mr Joyce said the delegation was not there to “antagonise” China.
“We want to make sure that we are both close to mainland China and also close to Taiwan,” Mr Joyce said.
Read related topics:China