Reacting quickly to the recent announcement of a $26 billion spending rise in Australia’s recent Defence White Paper, the People’s Republic of China has issued a statement condemning the decisions made by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government and describing the Chinese reaction as “concern and dissatisfaction”.
The White Paper, released on Thursday, described a variety of strategic acquisitions on the part of the Australian Defence Forces, with a clear focus on naval and air operations, including maritime patrol aircraft and new attack submarines.
The spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying, said that:
“It is hoped that the Australian side would take a correct and positive view of China’s development and strategic intention, take concrete steps and make joint efforts with China to increase mutual trust and safeguard regional peace, stability and growth. We definitely do not want to see tensions or arms race in the region. We hope that the Asia-Pacific would be a region where people from all countries enjoy peace…and that relevant parties would stop the so-called joint military drills and patrols, and cease constant reinforcement of military buildup in the Asia-Pacific.”
The Australian spending increase comes at a time when tensions are rising in the Asian Pacific region. China, which has been contending ownership for islands in the South China Sea, is claimed to have deployed surface-to-air missile systems on the disputed Woody Island, which is also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan. The Chinese government has also been using reclaimed land on the contested Spratley Islands to build a 3000 metre long airstrip with capacity to project power over Australia’s northern coast with ballistic missile launchers and strategic bombers.
Meanwhile, the United States has been increasing naval power in the region, deploying ships, submarines and aircraft under what is described as ‘freedom of navigation’ patrols. On the topic of the Chinese regional military buildup, the head of the US Navy Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris, said:
“We will be doing [patrols] more, and we’ll be doing them with greater complexity in the future and … we’ll fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows”