Wed, 29 Mar 2023

Australia Warns of Indo-Pacific Danger, Volatility

Voice of America
01 Feb 2023, 22:06 GMT+10

Sydney - Australia's foreign affairs minister is warning that all countries must maintain efforts to prevent a war in the Indo-Pacific. Speaking on an official visit to Britain, Penny Wong said the region is becoming "more dangerous and volatile."

Australian officials say they want to reduce tensions in the Indo-Pacific region and promote peace.

Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong Tuesday called on China and the United States to set broad limits on their strategic ambitions to prevent conflict.

Taiwan remains a potential flashpoint. Beijing claims ownership over the island. Last year, Beijing launched "targeted military operations" near Taiwan. Australia urged restraint and has warned that China's actions could lead to accidental conflict.

Speaking to reporters in London, Wong said peace in the region is a priority.

"As a region, we know the sharp edge of strategic competition. We have experienced our situation becoming more dangerous and more volatile. We must always remember that if conflict were to break out in the Indo-Pacific it would be catastrophic," she said.

There has been no reaction, so far, from Beijing.

Analysts say China's territorial claims in the South China Sea and its trade and military ambitions in the South Pacific have also stoked tensions with its regional neighbors, including Australia.

There are signs that years of diplomatic friction between Beijing and Canberra are easing after high-level meetings in recent months but there remain areas of uncertainty.

FILE - National flags of the Solomon Islands and China flutter at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, Oct. 7, 2019. FILE - National flags of the Solomon Islands and China flutter at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, Oct. 7, 2019.

Solomon Islands Sign Security Pact With China 

In 2022, China signed a security accord with Solomon Islands, a strategically located, mostly Melanesian, chain of islands northeast of Australia.

A visiting American general has warned the U.S. and its allies, including Australia, would need to use "everything in the cupboard" to avoid a conflict over Taiwan.

U.S. Marine Corps Commandant General David Berger has held talks with senior military officials in Canberra.

Berger said the United States and its allies need to constantly innovate to deter China. He added that Washington's strategy was "underpinned by deterrence... to prevent a conflict."

Australia's military alliance with the United States dates back to the early 1950s.

Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles and Wong are in Europe for talks with key allies. An official visit to France has been followed by ministerial talks in Britain.

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