Australia asks China to use influence to end Russia’s war in Ukraine
Sydney, Australia, Sep 23 (EFE).- Australia has asked China to use its influence and close ties with Russia to put an end to the war in Ukraine.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong urged Beijing to use its influence as one of the five permanent United Nations Security Council members (P5).
“We encourage China as a P5 member with a special responsibility to uphold the UN Charter and use its influence and end the war,” Wong told reporters in a live broadcast Thursday (Friday, Sydney time) after a meeting with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The remarks by Wong, who slammed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons as “unthinkable and irresponsible,” came after what she described as a “constructive” meeting with Wang.
Wong also reiterated her calls for containment and de-escalation with regard to Taiwan after United States President Joe Biden said recently that US military forces would defend the island in the event of a Chinese invasion, and China responded by urging him to be prudent in dealing with the matter.
The Australian minister said that since 1972, when diplomatic relations were established between the countries, Canberra has maintained its position of recognizing only one China.
However, she stressed that her country’s policy also “includes economic engagement and people-to-people engagement with Taiwan.”
Wong said that she also discussed with Wang the tariffs imposed by Beijing on several Australian exports and the arrest and prosecution of Chinese-Australian citizens, including journalist Cheng Lei and pro-democracy activist and academic Yang Hengjun, among others.
“It’s a long road in which many steps will have to be taken by both parties to a more stable relationship,” said Wong, who first met Wang on the sidelines of the G20 summit in July. That was also the first meeting between foreign ministers of the two countries since 2019.
Relations between Australia and China began to cool in 2020 following several disagreements, including the exclusion on security grounds of Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE from Australian 5G networks.
Ties have since deteriorated due to issues such as China’s expanding militarization and the approval in Australia of laws against foreign interference and espionage after the discovery of Chinese donations to politicians and cyberattacks on state agencies and universities.
China, which is Australia’s biggest trading partner, was particularly upset by Canberra’s request for an independent investigation into the origin of Covid-19 and responded by imposing import tariffs on several Australian products.