A senior politician has lashed out at Beijing as tensions rise between Australia and China.
Peter Dutton has lashed out at China’s “irrational” response to a major security alliance between Australia, Britain and the US.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison signed the deal in which Australia will acquire nuclear submarines in a major deal earlier this year.
In response, Beijing accused Canberra of engaging in an arms race and posing a threat to the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific region.
The defense minister said that given China’s rapid military expansion, it was important that Australia remain realistic about the country’s growing presence in the region.
“We see this more and more regularly and it’s disturbing and unnecessary to be honest,” Dutton told Sky News on Sunday.
“China’s reaction to that was irrational.
“I mean, to suggest that we’re in an arms race when we’re talking about getting nuclear powered submarines at a time when China (is) producing at a tonnage rate. It has more naval assets every 18 months than the Royal Australian Navy has in its entire fleet.”
He said the government needs to keep a clear eye when it comes to Beijing’s stand.
“These are uncertain times and we need to ensure that we are bringing together like-minded countries, friends and countries who share our values and vision,” the defense minister said.
“No one wants conflict and we will avoid it at every opportunity. But we also need to be realistic about the stand of China and the Chinese government.”
Mr Dutton’s remarks came ahead of the official visit of South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
President and First Lady Kim Jong-suk will arrive in Canberra on Sunday and will have a busy schedule of meetings with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other officials before their departure on Wednesday.
“This is a very important journey, it comes at the end of his term,” Dutton said.
He said the visit is set to strengthen ties between the two countries as the region is becoming wary of China.
“There is a lot of concern from many countries within the region regarding some bullying on the part of the Chinese government,” he said.
“We want peace and stability to prevail in our region and that is why we have close ties with people of common values. This is very important and probably more so than ever.”
Mr Moon is also scheduled to meet with Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese later this week.