Australia’s Dutton Vows to Work With U.S., China to Ensure Peace

Australia’s newly appointed Defense 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 U.S. and other allies in maintaining peace in the region.

“We don’t support militarization of ports, we don’t support any foreign country trying to exert influence here via cyber or other means,” Dutton told Sky News in a televised interview on Sunday. “We don’t want to see conflict in our region.”

Dutton was appointed defense minister last week in Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Cabinet reshuffle, which added one additional woman to the 22-person body. In a podcast released on Thursday, the U.S. Embassy’s charge d’affaires Michael Goldman said the U.S. is undertaking “strategic planning” with Australia to consider potential joint responses to a war over Taiwan.

“All of us want to see emerging super nations like China and existing ones like the U.S. work very closely together,” Dutton said. “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 U.S. bolstered diplomatic ties. Beijing claims Taiwan as part of its territory, 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,” Dutton said.

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