Australia caught in the middle of South China Sea conflict

May 21, 2018

Earlier this year, the United States placed Australia in an unenviable position by asking it to join in efforts to assert maritime freedom in the South China Sea.

Australian Conservatives leader Cory Bernardi says Australia needs to inure itself to political blow-back from China by steeling its resolve for the status quo sooner rather than later.

The New Daily reports China has built and militarised islands in the South China Sea and is in dispute over areas claimed by Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, The Philippines, and Vietnam.

Its so-called ‘nine-dash line’ claims waters that overlap areas claimed by these countries as exclusive economic zones.

Japan and the Korean Peninsula also have a huge interest in the dispute, which also includes the Spratly Islands, Parcel Islands and the Gulf of Tonkin.

China has already expressed its fury at American efforts to assert shipping rights close to the new islands it has built.

An estimated $US5 trillion of global trade passes through the South China Sea, meaning most of the globe has an interest in this important shipping lanes area remaining within international waters.

The news comes less than a year after revelations that disgraced former New South Wales Labor Senator Sam Dastyari allowed a company owned by Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo to pay a legal bill for his office, made comments at a Chinese media conference about the South China Sea that went against Labor Party and Federal Government policy and following allegations in Fairfax newspapers that Senator Dastyari had pressured Tanya Plibersek, who was then Labor's foreign affairs spokeswoman, not to meet a Chinese political activist in a visit to Hong Kong.

Senator Bernardi has told Sky New Australia needs to move swiftly to get rid of unbalanced Chinese investment in Australia's key cultural and economic institutions.

The news emerged less than two months after the powerful US House Armed Services Committee in Washington was told by Malcolm Turnbull’s former adviser, John Garnaut, how China has sought to brazenly manipulate Australian society to ‘tilt the political and strategic landscape to its advantage

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