China’s top commander has accused Australia of compromising peace and stability in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.
The accusation comes amid growing wariness in Canberra over China’s roles in the region and a diplomatic row over alleged Chinese political interference in Australian politics.
People’s Liberation Army Navy commander Lieutenant Admiral Shen Jinlong levelled the claim during a meeting with his Australian counterpart Vice Admiral Tim Barrett in Beijing on Thursday, the Ministry of National Defence said.
“The situation in the South China Sea is positive, but a series of moves by the Australian military this year has compromised the overall trend of peace and stability in the area,” Shen was quoted as saying.
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“This goes against the consensus agreed by leaders of both countries, as well as the goodwill they are trying to develop. It is also not beneficial to the safety and stability of the region.”
Shen did not refer to a specific incident but in June Australia joined Japan, Canada and the United States for two days of military exercises in the South China Sea.
He also warned Australia to take into consideration the rights and concerns of the countries involved, and to “add positive elements” to the relationship.