Madrid, June 28 (EFE).- Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese warned about China’s “aggressive” stance as he landed in Madrid for a NATO conference amid the Ukraine war.
“China has been prepared to make sanctions not just against Australia, but to be more aggressive in its stance in the world,” Anthony Albanese said in remarks published by his office on Tuesday.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit begins on Wednesday, and Albanese will meet with his counterparts from New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea there.
Australia, like the United States – one of its main allies – fears that China’s expansion will endanger peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region, especially after Beijing signed an opaquely-negotiated security pact with the Solomon Islands in April.
Following that agreement, the Albanese government, which came into office at the end of May, has redoubled its diplomacy with the Pacific nations with a special focus on the climate crisis and cooperation to counter China’s influence.
Canberra has had tense diplomatic relations with Beijing, its main trading partner, for years due to several ideological differences between them.
The NATO summit in Madrid, in which some 40 world leaders will participate and is expected to set the course for the military alliance for the next decade, has acquired special relevance since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, which set off a major armed conflict between the two countries.
“This is an important meeting at a critical time for the world. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has broken international law. What we know is that this brutal invasion is having real consequences for the people of Ukraine,” Albanese stressed, reiterating his commitment to Kyiv.
Australia is the non-NATO nation that has supported Ukraine the most militarily, financially, and humanitarian while enforcing the most sanctions against Russian politicians, military personnel, oligarchs, and corporations.
“But this invasion is also having an impact on the world, and it’s a reminder that even an island continent like Australia, across the other side of the world, has been impacted by this, with rising petrol prices and the difficult issues relating to the supply chains as a result of the disruption from the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” said the Australian leader, pointing out that “there are also issues in our own region that need to be dealt with” during the summit.
After the summit, Albanese will travel to France, where he will meet President Emmanuel Macron and attempt to resolve the bilateral crisis caused by Australia’s unilateral decision in 2021 to cancel a contract to acquire French submarines.
The deal was canceled when Australia announced in September that it would form the AUKUS alliance with the US and UK, allowing the Oceania nation access to US technology to build nuclear submarines. EFE