China’s most prominent ‘wolf warrior’ diplomat has urged Australian politicians and officials to “shake off the Cold War mentality” and accused them of “irresponsible and immoral” behaviour with their “drums of war” talk.
“Some individual politicians in Australia, out of their selfish interests, are keen to make statements that incite confrontation and hype up threat of war, which is extremely irresponsible,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in Beijing late Wednesday night.
“These people are the real troublemakers.”
It came after Home Affairs Secretary Mike Pezzullo declared the world’s “drums of war” were beating and that Australia must prepare for conflict in the region.
Mr Zhao was asked about Mr Pezzullo’s remarks in a press conference on Wednesday and gave a pointed response. He said Australia had benefited from co-operation with China for a long time, and that China was a promoter of peace and global development.
“As a country that has long benefited from co-operation with China, Australia is being untruthful and immoral with its false allegation of a ‘China threat theory’. This will only end up hurting its own interests,” he said.
“We urge certain individuals in Australia to shake off the Cold War mentality, stop making irresponsible remarks, and act in ways that are conducive to regional peace and stability rather than the opposite.”
Government approved ‘drums of war’ speech
On Anzac Day, Mr Pezzullo delivered a hawkish speech in which he said Australia must strive for peace, but not at the cost of liberty. He did not specifically mention China.
“In a world of perpetual tension and dread, the drums of war beat –sometimes faintly and distantly, and at other times more loudly and ever closer,” he said.
“Today, as free nations again hear the beating drums and watch worryingly the militarisation of issues that we had, until recent years, thought unlikely to be catalysts for war.
“Let us continue to search unceasingly for the chance for peace while bracing again, yet again, for the curse of war.”
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews confirmed she read the “very strong” speech in advance.
“The overarching message from government is that we need to be alert but not alarmed,” Ms Andrews said.
“We’re obviously very conscious as a government of what is happening in the Pacific region, in particular, and we will always put Australia first, second and third.”
Defence Minister Peter Dutton has this week expressed concerns about Beijing’s stance on Taiwan. And a parliamentary inquiry on Tuesday was told Australia must call out China’s widespread use of forced Uighur labour.
Morrison denies link to expansion of NT bases
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has denied an expansion of military bases in the Northern Territory was aimed at sending a message to China.
Mr Pezzullo also defended his comments at an event in Canberra on Wednesday.
He described his speech as a “personal lament” for peace, ABC reported.
“If only the same striving for peace – along with, as Minister [for Home Affairs Karen] Andrews said, ‘Being alert to risks without being alarmed by them’ – if only the same vigilance, as well as the longing for peace, had been in evidence in times past, perhaps fewer would have fallen,” he said.
“I think [it is] an entirely reasonable point to be making.”