Richards Marles has reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to the one-China policy as Canberra moves towards “stabilizing” its relationship with Beijing.
Speaking with Sky News Australia’s Kieran Gilbert on Sunday, the Defense Minister and acting Prime Minister said Australia’s main motive was to see a “de-escalation of tensions” in the region.
“What we want to see is a return to normal peaceful behavior which underpins that, from Australia’s point of view, is not wanting to see any unilateral change to the status quo across the Taiwan Strait,” he said.
“That means we have a one-China policy that’s been the status quo in Australian policy, and indeed for the United States and other countries, for a very long period of time.”
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Under Australia’s version of the one-China policy Taiwan is acknowledged as a province of China and is not recognized as its own country, however, the policy allows for unofficial contact including visits from MPs on parliamentary delegations.
Mr Marles said he did not believe Australia’s stance on Taiwan would hinder the repair of bilateral relations between Canberra and Beijing but said he wanted to see the relationship in a “better place”.
“We talk about a stabilizing in the relationship and in doing that we acknowledge there are going to be challenges in the relationship with China,” he said.
“What we have sought to do is really change the tone in the way in which we are engaging with the world but that includes the way in which we engage with China.
“We’re not going about things with chest beating we are really trying to speak with a considered voice in a manner which is professional, which is sober, and which is diplomatic.”
Beijing ended diplomatic communications with Canberra in January 2020 and slapped sanctions on barley, beef, wine and other goods after then-prime minister Scott Morrison called for an inquiry into the emergence of COVID-19.
He said the Albanese government’s approach would be “professional” and “respectful” in its approach without compromising Australia’s national interest.
“We want to engage professionally and respectfully but we will absolutely be articulating our national interest,” he said.
“There are going to be challenges going forward at the same time we acknowledge they’re our largest trading partner and we value a productive relationship with China.
“We do want to see our relationship in a better place but we’ll continue to articulate our national interest and we’ll see how far down this road we can walk.”