China

Australia news live: ambassador says China ‘ready to use all necessary means’ in Taiwan ‘unification’; nation records 133 Covid deaths


China ‘can never rule out’ use of force to stop Taiwan separation, says Xiao Qian

Back to Taiwan. Xiao Qian is asked about a new white paper released this morning which asserted China would “not renounce” the use of force and would take “all necessary measures” to retain the One China policy.

Can he explain what would constitute a “compelling circumstance” that would justify a use of force across the Strait?

Xiao reiterates Taiwan is “not an independent state” but a province of the People’s Republic of China. He says while they are waiting for a “peaceful unification”, China is willing to use any means necessary.

What does that mean? “You can use your imagination,” he says.

As for our approach to the question of the Taiwan, I think it’s consistent, clear and pretty open; we have [said] that on many occasions over the past several decades actually, that the people in the mainland, even in Taiwan, are Chinese. We’re both Chinese. And the Taiwanese are compatriots of China.

And the last thing we are ready to do is use force. That is one of the reasons why China has been so patient for several decades. We’re waiting for a peaceful unification.

But we can never rule out the option to use other means – so when necessary, when compelled, we are ready to use all necessary means. As to what does it mean, ‘all necessary means’? You can use your imagination, but … Chinese people are absolutely determined to protect our sovereignty, territorial integrity – we will never allow Taiwan to be separated from China.

The Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China Xiao Qian at the National Press Club.
The ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Xiao Qian, at the National Press Club. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Key events

National Covid summary: 133 deaths reported

Here are the latest coronavirus numbers from around Australia today, as the country records at least 133 deaths from Covid-19:

ACT

NSW

Northern Territory

Queensland

South Australia

Tasmania

Victoria

Western Australia

The Chinese ambassador has been gifted a sanctioned Australian wine by the Press Club, in a not-so-subtle nod to trade relations.

The gift to ambassador Xiao Qian after his speech to the @PressClubAust was a bottle of Penfolds Bin 389 courtesy of the club.

We’re told Penfolds has scored a win against a copycat winemaker in China. So an Australian wine seemed like the ideal gift. https://t.co/e3c77n4YzF

— David Crowe (@CroweDM) August 10, 2022

In Victoria, state opposition leader Matthew Guy is continuing to face scrutiny following the snap resignation of his (former) media director Lee Anderson earlier today.

Government scrutiny minister Danny Pearson:

“I know it might be difficult for Matthew Guy to arrange a press conference when he’s lost his media director, but the fundamental questions still have not been answered.” pic.twitter.com/NjwYDWYQrU

— Mitch Clarke (@96mitchclarke) August 10, 2022

CovidSafe contact-tracing app that found just two unique cases to be retired

Remember the $21m CovidSafe contact tracing app that was rolled out in the early days of the pandemic (several hundred years ago)?

Minister for health and aged care, Mark Butler, has announced it’s getting the scrap, after finding just two unique Covid cases.

We’ve acted to delete the Morrison Government’s failed COVIDSafe app. Scott Morrison said this app would be our “sunscreen” against COVID-19. All it did was burn through taxpayer’s money. pic.twitter.com/tyyj3Ovo9U

— Mark Butler MP (@Mark_Butler_MP) August 10, 2022

Read the full story here:

Matchstick grasshoppers to be released into Melbourne’s Royal park as part of biodiversity project

Now to some breaking grasshopper news.

Hundreds of tiny, flightless grasshoppers are being released into Melbourne’s Royal park as part of a pilot project to address the biodiversity emergency.

In a partnership with the University of Melbourne, the City of Melbourne are attempting to restore the local population of matchstick grasshoppers – a declining native Australian species that is extinct to the area.

The population will be monitored and assessed over the coming months, with grasshopper numbers hoped to “hop” into the thousands by 2023.

University of Melbourne’s Prof Ary Hoffmann said the “uniquely Australian species” had been part of Melbourne’s natural environment for hundreds of thousands of years, prominent in grassy areas of Melbourne that the Wurundjeri Willam managed with fire.

We look forward to these introductions being the start of a process to restore many other invertebrates that formerly called the city home.

‘Absolutely no room for compromise on the question of Taiwan’, ambassador says

The Press Club address has wrapped up.

It’s worth rewatching SBS journalist Helen Chen’s question, delivered in Mandarin Chinese to Xiao Qian.

Xiao finished on his hopes for the Australian government to “respect China’s territorial integrity and national unity” on Taiwan, making a bizarre analogy to Tasmania.

It’s an issue not to be compromised … it’s an issue so sensitive to China. If we can make compromise on many, many other issues, economic issues, trade issues, any other issues, there’s absolutely no room for us to compromise on the question of Taiwan. Because it’s a question of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Just like no Australian government would ever compromise on Australia’s territorial integrity. And just like maybe it’s not a good example, but Tasmania will be part of Australia, was, is. This involves territorial integrity.

Ambassador says differences between countries should not ‘hijack’ cooperation

Xiao Qian is also asked about criticism made towards the Australian media for not reporting on China positively.

He says this is “unfortunate,” and there’s “many things” the two nations have in common and can cooperate on.

Countries have differences. Even among people, even among brothers and sisters you have different views. Even between husband and wife sometimes you quarrel.

But it’s one thing for the husband and wife to quarrel and fight at home, it’s something else if they fight down in the street. It’s going to change the nature of the marriage … we shouldn’t allow these differences to hijack our cooperation.

No firm word on whether the ambassador will meet Anthony Albanese later this year, despite hopes for an improvement of relations between China and Australia.

Will Xi agree to meet Albanese this year, perhaps at the G20? The Ambassador doesn’t rule it out but doesn’t sound hugely positive: “if you are talking bad about me, why should I meet you? You humiliated me publicly, should I meet you to be humiliated again face-to-face?” 16/

— Stephen Dziedzic (@stephendziedzic) August 10, 2022

I think the Ambassador was referring to the diplomatic freeze over the last two years here (rather than describing the present moment) but it’s not entirely clear 17/

— Stephen Dziedzic (@stephendziedzic) August 10, 2022

Relationship between Ukraine and Russia ‘rather complicated’, Xiao Qian says

Xiao Qian is asked how Australia can take China’s emphasis on sovereignty and non-interventionism seriously when it has failed to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Xiao says China has good relations with both Ukraine and Russia and suggests Russia invading a sovereign country isn’t a black and white situation.

He says “there’s no simple answer to a question of complexity”, including Russia’s disputes with Nato and the country’s “security concerns”.

These two countries are both friendly countries to China. We have good relations with Russia … but at the same time, we have very good relation with Ukraine as well. Also very in-depth co-operation in many areas, including technology.

There’s no reason for us to support one against the other. But these two countries used to be part of the former Soviet Union. So the relation between these two countries is rather complicated. We’re for a bilateral discussion at the table to find out a political solution between these two countries.

Xiao Qian has denied China intends to establish a military base in the Solomon Islands.

Our foreign minister and also our people have made it pretty clear on several occasions that China came to the Solomon Islands upon request of the government of that country and … there’s no reason for us to refuse to help. But the purpose is help them to stabilise, to prosper, and to improve.

There is no intention for China to set up the so-called military base in Solomon Islands and the leader of the country have stated similar thing. I think should I say the page has turned.

The Ambassador says that China has “no intention” of establishing a military base in Solomon Islands, and he suggests the page has now “turned” on the issue 14/ pic.twitter.com/CezSkVxhCU

— Stephen Dziedzic (@stephendziedzic) August 10, 2022

Ambassador asked about re-education of Taiwanese population

Back to the Press Club. Xiao Qian is asked about comments which China’s ambassador to France made to media that when China takes control of Taiwan, it will re-educate its 23 million people.

Can he confirm if this is Chinese government policy? He says once Taiwan is reunited, there “might be a process” for citizens to have a “correct understanding about the motherland”.

I think given the situation that the people of Taiwan … are under a regional regime for many decades. It is reasonable for us to understand that their perspective about China, their perspective about their motherland, might take somewhat different views. I think this is a fact.

But I think the key point now is not about either education or re-education. The 1.4 billion Chinese people including the … people in Taiwan, are all Chinese.

My personal understanding is that once Taiwan is reunited, coming back to the motherland, there might be a process for the people in Taiwan to have a correct understanding of China, about the motherland.

There it is. Chinese ambassador to Australia just indicated, in words to that effect, that it is Chinese policy to re-educate Taiwanese people after the PRC takes control of the island @PressClubAust

— Rory Medcalf (@Rory_Medcalf) August 10, 2022

Victorian Liberal denies reports Matthew Guy’s communications director quit after disagreement with new chief of staff

Dipping back to domestic politics for a minute, and Victoria’s shadow health minister, Georgia Crozier, has denied reports of a disagreement between Lee Anderson and Matthew Guy’s new chief of staff, Nick McGowan, following Anderson’s abrupt resignation.

She confirms Guy will remain in the top role until the state election on 26 November.

Georgie Crozier has denied reports of a disagreement between OL Matthew Guy’s communications director Lee Anderson and his new chief of staff, following Mr Anderson’s abrupt resignation. @abcmelbourne pic.twitter.com/zubzGUqDFi

— Leanne Wong (@leanne_wong1) August 10, 2022

The state opposition’s most senior MPs maintain they still believe they can win the election despite the internal drama within Matthew Guy’s office. They say they have a “young and hungry team” behind them. Georgie Crozier insists Matthew Guy will still be in the role on Nov 26. pic.twitter.com/rLwq7ZI6rX

— Mitch Clarke (@96mitchclarke) August 10, 2022

China ‘can never rule out’ use of force to stop Taiwan separation, says Xiao Qian

Back to Taiwan. Xiao Qian is asked about a new white paper released this morning which asserted China would “not renounce” the use of force and would take “all necessary measures” to retain the One China policy.

Can he explain what would constitute a “compelling circumstance” that would justify a use of force across the Strait?

Xiao reiterates Taiwan is “not an independent state” but a province of the People’s Republic of China. He says while they are waiting for a “peaceful unification”, China is willing to use any means necessary.

What does that mean? “You can use your imagination,” he says.

As for our approach to the question of the Taiwan, I think it’s consistent, clear and pretty open; we have [said] that on many occasions over the past several decades actually, that the people in the mainland, even in Taiwan, are Chinese. We’re both Chinese. And the Taiwanese are compatriots of China.

And the last thing we are ready to do is use force. That is one of the reasons why China has been so patient for several decades. We’re waiting for a peaceful unification.

But we can never rule out the option to use other means – so when necessary, when compelled, we are ready to use all necessary means. As to what does it mean, ‘all necessary means’? You can use your imagination, but … Chinese people are absolutely determined to protect our sovereignty, territorial integrity – we will never allow Taiwan to be separated from China.

The Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China Xiao Qian at the National Press Club.
The ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Xiao Qian, at the National Press Club. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

‘We want to sort out’ Australian citizens in custody in China ‘according to Chinese rule’, ambassador says

Turning to the possible release of Australian citizen Cheng Lei, Xiao Qian says for “individual cases”, there are Australian citizens in China under custody according to “Chinese rules and laws”.

Their basic rights are well protected, don’t worry about that. And during the pandemic, during the severe periods of the pandemic in the cities where they were detained, there were times they were not accessible to their relatives or diplomats from Australia. It’s because of the pandemic.

Now it’s easy to get access to their relatives either in Australia or the Australian embassy in China. The cases are still under jurisdiction process and … we want to sort it out according to Chinese rule and the law.

‘A lot to be done to reset’ China-Australia relationship, ambassador says

The second question concerns the relationship between China and Australia. Xiao Qian mentioned in his speech the 50th anniversary of relations between the two nations. To mark this, could China make “practical moves” to improve relations including a possible lifting of trade restrictions or the release of Australian citizen Cheng Lei?

Xiao says the past two years have been a “difficult time” for the two countries and now marks an “opportunity for a possible reset of relationships” and is “hopeful” for the future if both sides find solutions.

Here we have a good start ever since the new Labor government came into power. But it’s a good start only. There’s a lot to be done to reset this relationship. There’s a lot of issues on the table, many disputes to be solved. Our policy is that … we’re ready to work together with Australia’s new government to put this relationship back on the right track.

Currently, there have been top-level communications, even face-to-face contacts, but we have not yet come to the stage to discuss about how to solve those specific issues – either political issues or trade issues, or some other individual cases’ issues.

As for trade disputes, he would rather not use the term “sanctions”.

One is a trade dispute at the government level. These are mainly on the tariffs … it happened, that’s true. It was official action … we’re ready to sort it out and solve this dispute through the WTO with the Labor government.

The second type is about people’s attitudes. When there was some policies taken or actions taken by the previous Australian government on some of the major Chinese companies, Chinese projects, Chinese businesses in this country … that’s a huge disruption to the normal business relations between our two countries. And these actions have been sending very negative messages to the people in China and they’re not happy, to be honest.

Peace and stability in Asia-Pacific would be guaranteed by respecting One China policy, ambassador says

The first question is, unsurprisingly, on Taiwan. How long will military drills continue, and in what way are the drills the action of a “stabilising nation”?

Qian says the question cuts to the essence of the One China policy, which he says was compromised by Nancy Pelosi’s visit.

If every country put their One China policy into practice with sincerity, with no compromise, [this] is going to guarantee the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

The visit by Speaker Pelosi to the Taiwan region is exactly the reason that it has caused the violation of the commitments by the US government to One China policy and has caused the escalation of tension across Taiwan Strait, and the Chinese side is taking action in reaction to what has been done by the US side.

And our purpose is to send a message, clear-cut, to those who are violating the commitment of One China policy, who are supporting One China, One Taiwan or two Chinas … The reaction is legitimate, it’s justified.

As for how long military exercises and drills will last, he reiterates they are a “counter-measure” to the US visit and the fact that “there’s no room for compromise”.

On the question of Taiwan, it’s an issue relating to sovereignty and territorial integrity. There’s no room for us to compromise. And how long it’s going to last? In a proper time, I think there will be an announcement.





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