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China Puzzled by Australia’s Public Support for U.S. South China Sea Navigation

After January 30, when the U.S. Navy sent the USS "Curtis Wilbur" missile destroyer into the area that is within 12 nautical miles of China’s Paracel islands, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang responded that the U.S. action was to exercise Maritime hegemony and asked the U.S. to stop such acts as early as possible. The Chinese Communist mouthpiece Global Times, a subsidiary of People’s Daily published a report critical of the fact that some countries are adding fuel to the flames by publicly supporting the “Freedom of Navigation Operation” (FONOP) of the United States. The article named Japan and Australia in particular. 

On February 1, Global Times interviewed Chinese maritime scholar Liu Feng. During the interview, Liu said that Japan’s position of supporting the United States is not surprising. It is mainly due to its interests and strategic needs. However, the latest Australian statement on the issue was [surprising] and worthy of special attention. Liu Feng expressed the belief that following the United States to interfere with the South China Sea issue should not be Australia’s intention. He observed that, if Australia disregards China’s interests, it is likely to bring substantial harm to Sino-Australian relations. 
Liu Feng said that the Sino-U.S. competition in the South China Sea is entering a new phase. Military provocation is becoming America’s customary option. [We] cannot rule out that the United States will choose a new target area for continued provocation in the future. The United States’ reckless acts in the South China Sea have significantly increased the possibility of an incident of Sino-U.S. friction at sea. 

Source: People’s Daily, February 2, 2016

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