Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is standing by her public criticism of China’s imposing an air-defence zone in the East China Sea, despite an angry response from the Asian powerhouse.
Ms Bishop expressed concern this week that the provocative move was made without warning or consultation and could increase tensions in the region.
Her comments drew a sharp rebuke on Wednesday from China’s foreign ministry spokesman, Qin Gang, who described them as irresponsible.
But Ms Bishop denies she overstepped the mark.
“This is a matter of long-standing Australian policy, we’ve raised it before and the response from China was to be expected,” she told Sky News.
“Australia has a key stake in the region and we would oppose action by any side that we believe could add to the tensions or add to the risk of a miscalculation in disputed territorial zones in the region.”
Ms Bishop says she doesn’t believe the comments will affect Australia’s hopes of securing a free trade agreement with China next year.
Other countries have also expressed their concerns about the unilateral action, Ms Bishop said.
“We called the Chinese ambassador to Australia in and expressed our concerns,” she said.
She expects to discuss the matter with Beijing when she travels there soon.