China complains to Australia over former PM Tony Abbott’s ‘inappropriate’ comments in Taiwan

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File: Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott wears a mask with the Chinese character for ‘Australia’ during a meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen (AP)
File: Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott wears a mask with the Chinese character for ‘Australia’ during a meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen (AP)

China has lodged stern representations with Australia over “inappropriate” comments made by the country’s former prime minister Tony Abbott about Taiwan.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Monday said Mr Abbott’s comments sent “a seriously wrong signal” and claimed the one-China principle was a well-recognised norm in the international community.

“The relevant words and actions by the Australian politician go against the one-China principle and send a seriously wrong signal,” Mr Zhao said. “China is firmly opposed to this. We have made stern representations to Australia,” he added.

China’s embassy in Australia also denounced Mr Abott’s statements in a statement on its website, terming them to be a “despicable and insane performance in Taiwan”.

“Tony Abbott is a failed and pitiful politician. His recent despicable and insane performance in Taiwan fully exposed his hideous anti-China features,” the embassy said.

Mr Abbott, during his visit to Taiwan in a personal capacity last week, met Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen and told a security forum that China may lash out because its economy was slowing and its finances “creaking”.

While delivering a keynote address to the Yushan Forum, he accused China of displaying “growing belligerence to Taiwan” amid recent incursions by military aircraft into Taiwan’s air defence zone.

While praising Taiwan, he described the region as a “wonderful country” before correcting himself to say “wonderful place”.

Beijing maintains that Taiwan is a part of its national territory, even though the island has been self ruled since its split from the mainland after a civil war in 1949.

The former prime minister later said he would return to Australia with a message for the government to support Taiwan in every reasonable way possible as it was “under a challenge from its giant neighbour”.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen on Sunday vowed to defend the island from Beijing's aggression, amid heightened tensions with China.

Speaking at Taiwan's National day celebrations, she said: “We will do our utmost to prevent the status quo from being unilaterally altered.”

Since last Friday, Beijing has sent a record number of military jets into Taiwan’s air defence zone.

Three Chinese planes, including two fighter jets, crossed into the zone on Sunday, Taiwan’s defence ministry said.

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