One of Australia’s European partners has expressed concern about China’s increasing assertiveness and has called for restraint.
In a joint media conference with his Australian counterpart Penny Wong on Monday, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said nations in the Pacific region needed to remain calm amid soaring tensions in the Taiwan Strait.
“What we see is that there is a rising assertiveness not only in this part of the world, but in our part of the region,” Mr Rinkevics told reporters in Canberra.
“It is very important to understand that China is also really carefully watching what is happening in Europe, what is happening in Ukraine, and has adjusted its policies and stance in this part of the world.
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“It is very important we work together and we provide the same kind of message of the need to have restraint, not to over-react.”
His comments come after a tense stand-off following US Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last week.
In response, China shot 11 ballistic missiles over Taiwan and close to Japan, in addition to war-gaming an invasion of the island.
The Chinese government said it was the “victim” and accused Senator Wong of “finger pointing” after she last week condemned Beijing’s “disproportionate and destabilising” actions.
Senator Wong said on Monday Australia was not the only nation concerned about escalation and it was critical the “temperature is lowered”.
“The region is concerned about escalation, the region is concerned about the risk of conflict,” she said.
“Australia’s national interests haven’t changed … we will continue in a calm and considered way to articulate our national interests
“What I would say is our interests are the interests of the region, and that is restraint and de-escalation.”
When asked if she will contact Taiwan’s government, Senator Wong said: “We will continue to act in ways consistent with our longstanding bipartisan ‘one China’ policy.”
Earlier, the European Union’s outgoing Australian ambassador, Dr Michael Pulch, said there was nothing provocative about parliamentarians visiting other nations, as Ms Pelosi had done.
He said Europe did not hold the view the US was at “fault” in going ahead with the visit.