CANBERRA, AAP – WAR OF WORDS OVER CHINA

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has sought to pivot from criticism he was too slow to act against a China-Solomons security pact by attacking Labor’s record on Beijing. Mr Morrison seized on reported comments from Deputy Labor Leader Richard Marles, accusing him of hypocrisy. But Labor has hit back, resurfacing the prime minister’s own quotes which encourage Chinese investment in the Pacific.

RICHARD MARLES

“Basing our actions in the Pacific on an attempt to strategically deny China would be a historic mistake.”

“Australia has no right to expect a set of exclusive relationships with the Pacific nations. They are perfectly free to engage on whatever terms they choose with China or, for that matter, any other country.”

“An attempt to engage in a calculated denial of China will only create a geo-strategic contest that Pacific Island countries will register with bewilderment, if not mirth.”

– Quotes from Tides that Bind: Australia in the Pacific by Richard Marles. Published August 2021.

“Australia needs to earn the right to be the natural partner of choice. We are in a strategic contest with China.”

“We all get the threat that China represents to Australia. There is no disagreement about that. The question is what is Australia going to do about it, that’s what is criticised here.”

– Interview on the Nine Network, April 22, 2022.

SCOTT MORRISON

“China provides a real stability to the region and frankly the world economy and stable growth from China is good news for Australia and the global economy.

– Press conference on strategic economic dialogue with China, September 18, 2017.

“We welcome Chinese investment. We have welcomed it for decades. The stock of Chinese investment in Australia in 2018 was more than eight times larger than a decade ago.”

“The infrastructure needs of the region are enormous and Australia welcomes the contribution that the Belt and Road Initiative can make to regional investment and to regional development.”

– Address to the University of Melbourne, June 26, 2019.

“I find it outrageous that Labor would criticise us when their own deputy leader was actually advocating what the Chinese government has been seeking to do in our region.”

– Interview on the Nine Network, April 22, 2022.