Published On: Wed, Oct 30th, 2019

South China Sea crisis: Australia make defiant warning to China as tensions spill over | World | News

Canberra has told President Xi Jinping via a statement that it will hold Beijing to account for human rights transgressions in the country’s Xinjiang region. Many Uighur muslims have been locked up in chilling “re-education camps” which aim to force Islamic communities to abandon their faith in favour of state support. Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Tuesday: “We must respect each other’s sovereignty, but we will consistently continue to raise issues such as human rights, including, as I have said, with China.

“Turning a blind eye to all human rights violations means an acceptance of behaviour that undermines the foundations of international peace and stability. Where there is no challenge, there is no progress.”

She added: “We have also addressed the treatment of the Uighur people in Xinjiang province in China.”

The United Nations says at least 1 million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims have been detained.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Payne had “ignored the facts”, particularly with her remarks in Xinjiang.

He added: “This is really not good, and does not benefit the improvement and development of the two countries’ relations.

“China has already lodged stern representations with Australia about this, to say this way of doing things is very inappropriate.

“We hope the Australian side can reflect on, and learn the lessons of the recent disturbances in Sino-Australian relations.”

Souring relations have strained trade between the two countries despite China being a crucial partner for Australia.

READ MORE: South China Sea threat: Philippines to push for code of conduct

China has also been accused of attempting to use its trading leverage over Australia to drive a wedge between the Commonwealth when it became clear that wealthy Chinese businessmen were donating to political organisations to drive changes in Australia’s policy.

Investigative journalist Nick McKenzie discovered one of these businessmen – Huang Xiangmo – a property tycoon from Guangdong who arrived in Australia in 2011.

Xiangmo paid off a party debt of $5000, and then began asking frontbencher in the Australian Labor Party Sam Dastyari for favours such as accelerating his citizenship application.

Small favours led to a huge donation of $400,000 to the Australian Labor Party in 2016 from Xiangmo, likely on the condition that the party begin supporting China’s claim for the South China Sea, against the interests of key Commonwealth allies.

In 2018, Dastyari resigned after the investigation unveiled his shocking links to Beijing.

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