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The chilling threat from Beijing comes after Washington and Canberra pledged to deepen military ties to show a united a front against Chinese aggression in the South China Sea. The allies recently joined forces for large-scale naval drills in the Philippine Sea and have also unveiled plans for a vast refuelling depot for US warships on the northern Australian coast.
The sabre-rattling ultra-nationalist Global Times newspaper — part of the state-owned People’s Daily newspaper – warned Australia will “face unbearable consequences by undermining its ties with China” and prompt greater vigilance and mistrust from Beijing.
Australia is making a gamble and betting more chips on the US by jeopardising China-Australia ties
It said: “Australia is making a gamble and betting more chips on the US by jeopardising China-Australia ties.
“Canberra is trying hard to show its loyalty to Washington.
“Washington is hysterically instigating a new cold war against China, while most countries are dealing with it passively.
“It is indeed unpopular for Washington to make its China policy crazy and force other countries to take sides.
“It is doomed to face many difficulties as there is no driving force for its implementation.”
The Chinese warnings were issued after the US and Australia held a joint press conference to announce closer ties, including a including a new military fuel reserve in Northern Territory capital Darwin.
Jian Zhang, a Chinese foreign policy expert at University of New South Wales, said the fuel reserve facility in Australia would be useful for the US in the event of any conflict with China.
He said: “Australia, as an alternative place for stockpiles of equipment and fuel reserves, is quite logical because the US bases in southeast Asia and the US bases in northeast Asia are most likely to be affected.”
Darwin, an isolated city of 130,000 people, is closer to some Asian capitals than to the Australian capital Canberra.
It has hosted a contingent of 1,250 US Marines since 2011, under former President Barack Obama’s pivot to Asia following China’s increased assertiveness in the region.
At the joint press conference, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told his Australian counterpart: “America knows the threats that you and the rest of the free world face and stands with you in our unbreakable alliance.”
The US is building a Western united front against the China with frosty relations between Washington and Beijing nosediving amid the coronavirus pandemic, territorial tensions, human rights disputes, and conflict over Chinese tech companies.
Chinese-Australian relations have also dipped alongside the pandemic with Canberra among the loudest voices demanding an international probe into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic which began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
Mr Pompeo later told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing the “tide is turning” in dealings with China and cited growing international support for Washington’s policies.
He said other countries were supporting initiatives like the push not to use Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies’ equipment in 5G networks and stepped-up maritime maneuvres in the South China Sea.
Mr Pompeo said: “Our vigorous diplomacy has helped lead an international awakening to the threat of the Chinese Communist Party. The tide is turning.”
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Washington and Beijing each recently closed one of the other’s consulates and Pompeo recently announced an end to Hong Kong’s special trading status.
However, Mr Pompeo also noted the difficulty of forming an international alliance, given China’s economic strength.
He said he was “surprised and dismayed” at the number of countries that backed Beijing’s crackdown on the autonomy of Hong Kong.
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