Australia's new defence minister Peter Dutton vows to work with US, China to ensure peace

Mr Peter Dutton was appointed defence minister last week in Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's Cabinet reshuffle.
Mr Peter Dutton was appointed defence minister last week in Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's Cabinet reshuffle.PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) - Australia's newly appointed Defence Minister Peter Dutton said China's Global Times newspaper is "half right" in describing him as a hawk, saying he intends to work closely with the United States and other allies in maintaining peace in the region.

"We don't support militarisation of ports, we don't support any foreign country trying to exert influence here via cyber or other means," Mr Dutton told Sky News in a televised interview on Sunday (April 4).

"We don't want to see conflict in our region," he said.

Mr Dutton was appointed defence minister last week in Prime Minister Scott Morrison's Cabinet reshuffle.

In a podcast released last Thursday, the US Embassy's charge d'affaires Michael Goldman said the US is undertaking strategic planning with Australia to consider potential joint responses to a war over Taiwan.

Mr Dutton said: "All of us want to see emerging super nations like China and existing ones like the US work very closely together.

"Obviously, China has held long-term ambitions in relation to Taiwan, and we want to make sure that there is peace in our region and that we can work in a collaborative way with the Chinese Communist Party."

Over the past few years, China has increased military exercises around Taiwan at the same time the US bolstered diplomatic ties.

Beijing claims Taiwan as a breakaway province to be reunified, by force if necessary, though the government in Taipei views Taiwan as an already de facto sovereign nation.

"We've worked very closely with the United States because they're our most important ally but we don't do that in an antagonistic way, we do it in a way to protect our sovereignty and our national interest," Mr Dutton said.