Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop arrived in Beijing on Tuesday night for talks with China, but was met with little fanfare due to her recent comments questioning China’s activities in the South China Sea.
Recently, the Philippines challenged Beijing at arbitration court in The Hague regarding its South China Sea claims, but Beijing has refused to give the Philippines the time of day.
While meeting earlier this week with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, Bishop gave her opinion on the case: “We recognize 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.”
But Bishop didn’t stop with that bland statement, she went on ask whether China is thinking of allowing other countries access to whatever they hell they’re doing in the disputed region, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
“In the past Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said they will be public goods, so I am seeking more detail as to how other nations could access these public goods. Depending upon the answer he gives, we will look at the situation,” she said.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has thus responded with the stink-eye. At a press briefing on Tuesday, spokesman Hong Lei stressed China’s claim to the territory and what they believe to be the Philippines’ flouting of international law: “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.”
As of giving others access to their Great Wall of Sand:
We’ve repeatedly stated our stance; the constructions on relevant islands by China are mainly to provide more public service to the international community as well as to facilitate rescue, fishery and medical operations.
The relevant facilities will be used by the international community when needed. At the same time, we want to emphasize that the installation of military facilities is for self-defense, a right that China has in accordance with international law. It will not affect the freedom of navigation and overflight that all other countries are entitled to under international law.
We wonder if the surface-to-air missiles are a part of this “public service” arrangement.
In the meantime, Bishop is meeting today with Wang who, incidentally, has also publicly gone in on her in times past.