July 31, 2020 1:36:38 am
Urging restraint along the LAC, Australian High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell said on Thursday that Australia opposed any attempts to unilaterally change the status quo.
After meeting External Affairs minister S Jaishankar on Thursday, the Australian envoy said, “Australia urges restraint along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), and supports continued moves towards de-escalation. As I told the External Affairs Minister of India today, Australia opposes any attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo, which only serve to increase tension and the risk of instability.”
“It is important that the bilaterally-agreed principles and norms that have helped prevent escalation or miscalculation in the border areas over many decades continue to be observed,” he said.
On the Indo-Pacific region and China’s aggressive behaviour, he said, “The Indo-Pacific region, like other parts of the world, is grappling with the enormous challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as we focus on the health and economic impacts of the pandemic, Australia remains vigilant about strategic trends inimical to our vision of the region.”
“Our vision for the Indo-Pacific remains unchanged and is for an open, free, rules-based region; a region resilient to coercion and supported by inclusive global and regional institutions that promote prosperous, stable and sovereign states based on shared interest. Territorial disputes and competing claims should be resolved peacefully by the claimant countries, and in ways consistent with international law.”
“Each country in the region has the agency to shape not just how our region emerges from COVID-19, but how we use this test to reinforce a regional order guided by agreed rules and international law.”
On the South China Sea, he said, “Australia remains deeply concerned by actions in the South China Sea that are destabilising and could provoke escalation.”
On July 23, Australia lodged a note with the UN Secretary General against China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea.
On cyber issues, he said, “In recent months, malicious cyber actors have sought to take advantage of the pandemic across the Indo-Pacific region. We call on all countries to refrain from behaviour which violates their international commitments.”
The Australian government has hinted at China’s role at cyber-attacks in recent months.
“We will work through multilateral and regional institutions to strengthen a rules-based cyberspace. Australia has announced a record boost to cyber security spending – more than Rs 7,000 crore (AUD 1.35 billion) to recruit 500 new experts,” O’Farrell said.
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