Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has received a very cold reception from her Chinese counterpart after arriving in Beijing. The reception comes after the Foreign Minister, speaking in Japan, said she will be pressing the Chinese to explain the reclamation work they are doing the South China Seas.
The Chinese have been reclaiming land around disputed islands in the South China Seas and have been challenged by the Philipines, the Japanese, the Taiwanese and the Vietnamese.
Ms Bishop said, “We recognise the Philippines right to seek to resolve the matter through arbitration, but we urge all claimants to settle their disputes peacefully without coercion, without intimidation,”. She also highlighted Australia doesn’t take sides in international disputes over territorial waters but is waiting for the outcome of the legal challenge.
— Julie Bishop (@JulieBishopMP) February 16, 2016
“Given that President Xi has said that China does not intend to militarise the islands then of course we ask what the construction work on the islands will be used for,” stated Ms Bishop.
“In the past, Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said they will be public goods and I’m intending to ask how other nations could access these public goods.“Depending upon the answer he gives, we will look at the situation.”
In response to Ms Bishops comments and the Philipines legal challenge the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson for China has replied “China certainly will not accept this. Australia ought not to selectively avoid this reality,”
“Australia should not selectively evade that objective fact. Australia should adopt an objective and unbiased attitude and refrain from doing anything that undermines regional peace and stability.”