South China Sea: DFAT talking points outline Australia’s position on growing China tensions


A satellite image shows an island in the South China Sea.
PHOTO: Last week China was found to have deployed a surface-to-air missile on the disputed Woody Island. (Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/Centre for Strategic and International Studies)
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MAP: China
Australian Government MPs and officials have been given fresh talking points on how to handle questions about rising tensions in the South China Sea, following a recent escalation of activity by Beijing.

The media talking points obtained by the ABC have been prepared by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT), in consultation with the Defence Department and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The seven-page document is marked “For Official Use Only” and was prepared after “recent developments” in the South China Sea.

Last week China was found to have deployed a surface-to-air missile system on the disputed Woody Island, although the document still refers to the development as a “possible Chinese deployment”.

Public officials who are asked about the concerns are advised to state that “we don’t take sides on competing territorial claims in the South China Sea but land reclamation and construction activity by China and other claimants raises tensions in the region”.