New Aussie defence chief vows to work with US

Mr Peter Dutton says Australia does not want to see conflict in the region.
Mr Peter Dutton says Australia does not want to see conflict in the region.

SYDNEY • Australia's new Defence Minister Peter Dutton has 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 yesterday.

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

Mr Dutton was appointed defence chief last week in a Cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

In a podcast released last Thursday, the US Embassy's charge d'affaires Michael Goldman said Washington is undertaking strategic planning with Canberra 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.

"China has held long-term ambitions in relation to Taiwan, and we want to make sure 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 a de facto sovereign nation.

"We've worked very closely with the US 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.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2021, with the headline 'New Aussie defence chief vows to work with US'. Subscribe