(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Bloomberg
China's ambassador to Australia has warned Canberra to take Beijing's stance on Taiwan seriously, saying it regards the nation as Australia does its island state of Tasmania.
While Xiao Qian said there was an opportunity to reset chilly relations between Australia and China, he cautioned that there was no room for compromise on Beijing's One China policy, in a speech in Canberra on Wednesday.
'It's a question of sovereignty and territorial integrity, just like no Australian government would compromise on Australia's territory,” he said. 'Tasmania was, is, will be part of Australia,” said Xiao, referring to the island state off the country's southern coast.
The Chinese military is conducting extensive military drills around Taiwan following a visit to the democratically-governed island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week. In a joint statement with the US and Japan on Saturday, Australia called for China to immediately cease its military exercises and de-escalate tensions in the region.
The Chinese Communist Party has never governed Taiwan, however Beijing insists the island is part of its territory and has pledged 'reunification” by force if necessary.
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A new white paper by the Chinese government blamed growing tensions across the Taiwan Strait on the 'independence-seeking behavior” of Taiwan's president Tsai Ingwen and reserved all necessary options. When asked in Canberra what that could mean, Xiao said 'you can use your imagination.”
'The future of Taiwan will be decided by 1.4 billion Chinese people,” he said.
The relationship between China and Australia has grown chilly in recent years, as the two countries clashed over human rights, regional security and an international investigation into the origins of Covid-19. However, Xiao said he was hopeful of improved relations, saying the two countries were 'economically highly complementary.”
When asked about the two prominent Chinese Australians who are imprisoned in China and the ongoing trade disputes between the two countries, Xiao said he hoped the 'issues on the table will be gradually solved.”
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