Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Australia remains committed to maintaining the “status quo” towards China, but will defend its national interests and values.
China fired nearly a dozen ballistic missiles during live-fire exercises near Taiwan in the wake of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to the island earlier this week.
The state-controlled media also warned the US that it would bear the brunt of “all consequences” for the ongoing visit.
Albanese would not be drawn to comment on Pelosi’s visit, but said his government wants regional peace and security amid ongoing tensions.
“Australia has said we don’t want to change the status quo and that is the position of the United States,” he told ABC radio on Friday.
“I do not comment on the decisions that the president of the United States made the decision to visit there.
“It really is their business.”
The prime minister urged caution in the wake of China’s military exercises.
“We need to continue on the path we’re on, which is to seek cooperation and positive relations with China where we can, but we stand up for Australian values and Australian national interests where we must,” Albanese said.
“This includes the issue of law…to allow for safe navigation and passage, including across the South China Sea.”
Secretary of State Penny Wong has warned that Beijing’s actions could lead to accidental conflict.
Liberal Senator James Patterson also called for calm, while condemning China’s response to the trip.
“I would encourage the government to look, as we have done in the past, and call on China to exercise restraint and avoid actions that could lead to miscalculation or accidents,” he told ABC Radio.
“The military exercises that are taking place all over Taiwan today are very risky and could easily inadvertently cause harm, and China really needs to undo those measures.”
Senator Patterson, who visited the island, said that was consistent with the “one China” policy backed by Australia and the United States.
“It is a grossly disproportionate response to the firing of ballistic missiles into your neighbors’ territorial waters in response to a congressional delegation,” he said.
It is customary for members of the US Congress, including the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to visit Taiwan.”
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is scheduled to visit Canberra on Monday for talks with Senator Wong and officials.
Sherman will also visit Samoa, Tonga, Solomon Islands and New Zealand over the next week as the United States shifts its diplomatic focus to the region.