During a visit to Taiwan on Friday, a former Australian prime minister accused China of bullying and expressed enthusiastic support for the democratically run island.
At a news conference, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott remarked, “Nothing is more urgent right now than support with Taiwan.”
The Chinese government has been attempting to isolate Taiwan, which it claims as its own. It has up military harassment of Taiwan by flying fighter planes toward the island, with an especially high number of flights this week.
Abbott made his remarks at a symposium held by a Taiwanese government-backed research organization. His visit to Taiwan is unauthorized, according to the Australian government.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen gave a more restricted statement at the start of the summit, omitting any mention of China.
“Taiwan is fully committed to working with regional players to avoid military confrontation in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait,” she added.
Abbott claimed he was hesitant to attend the Yushan Forum two years ago because he didn’t want to provoke Beijing.
Until recently, China was Australia’s largest coal and other commodity export market.
Beijing has tightened restrictions over Hong Kong and “weaponized” trade against Australia since then, he added.
Following Australia’s demand for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, Beijing has placed formal and unofficial trade obstacles on Australian exports such as wine, coal, and barley, effectively shutting down imports of these items.
The Chinese Embassy in Australia had given a list of requests, according to Abbott, which effectively demanded that “we become a tributary state.”
“Be a friend, and you’ll have pals,” Abbott said. “Be a bully, and you’ll just have clients who can’t wait to get out.”
However, he went on to say that “collaboration is still possible, and trust may be rebuilt.”
Abbott served as Australia’s special trade envoy to India this year. In August, he enraged Beijing by describing a possible Australia-India free trade pact as a symptom of the “democratic world’s shift away from China.”
Abbott had gone to Taiwan as a private person, according to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and had received no communication from the present administration. The government, on the other hand, exempted him from a pandemic travel restriction that has kept most Australians at home.
Jenny Bloomfield, Australia’s top diplomat in Taiwan, accompanied Abbott to his engagements, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
In 2014, he welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Australia and was the prime minister when a free trade agreement with China was signed. After Abbott was ousted as Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who spoke at the same Taiwan event online last year, the agreement went into force in 2015.
The most essential issue, according to Abbott, is to safeguard Taiwan’s self-determination. Chinese officials have stated that they are committed to uniting the island and the mainland, even if it means using force.
He lauded Taiwan’s democratic transition and economic progress, and warned that if Taiwan is endangered, Australia should not be “indifferent.”
Abbott’s visit coincides with a delegation of four French senators visiting the island as part of a parliamentary exchange, who complimented the island’s democracy and stressed the significance of regional stability.
France is dedicated to maintaining “stability, open communications, and free navigation” in the Indo-Pacific area, according to Alain Richard, the senator who headed the delegation.
The senators’ visit was also subjected to Chinese pressure.
When asked about recent Chinese pressure and fighter aircraft flights near Taiwan, Richard replied that these were “threat messages” that both Taiwan and the “regional powers dedicated to stability” recognized.
In the face of such threats, Abbott urged other countries to rally with Taiwan.
“Our task is to keep the unimaginable inconceivable and the feasible from becoming plausible,” Abbott said.
“That is why Taiwan’s allies are so crucial right now, to emphasize that Taiwan’s destiny should be chosen by its own people, and to warn Beijing that any effort at coercion would have unfathomable repercussions.”