Australia brushes US spat over Chinese spy balloon

Foreign Minister Penny Wong has dismissed concerns a diplomatic spat between the US and China could affect Australia’s efforts to remove trade sanctions.

Tensions between Beijing and Washington are heavily strained after an alleged Chinese surveillance balloon entered America and was shot down.

US President Joe Biden said the balloon had crossed over sensitive military sites but Chinese officials insisted it was a civilian aircraft that entered the country by accident.

The Chinese balloon with a fighter jet and its contrail seen below. Photo: AAP

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has postponed a planned visit to China following the balloon barney.

Senator Wong said Australia shared concerns about the incident but emphasised the need for stability.

“We share the US’s concerns about the infringement of US sovereignty and the violation of international law and that the US has acted in a careful way, a responsible way,” she said on Monday.

“It’s very important in the specific or more generally that we don’t allow competition to escalate into conflict. To this end it is really very important that China and the US continue to engage.”

Senator Wong urged for talks between the two world powers to continue.

“We would add our voice to, I’m sure, many in the region, we want a stable, peaceful prosperous region and world,” she said.

Trade Minister Don Farrell is expected to go ahead with a virtual meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Wentao.

While the meeting’s exact date has not been confirmed, China’s $20 billion trade sanctions on Australian products including barley, rock lobsters and wine are expected to be discussed.

It will mark the first time in three years Australian and Chinese ministers responsible for trade have met and is expected to lead to an in-person discussion.

Senator Wong said it would a benefit to both countries if the trade sanctions were lifted.

“This is the first step of many and both countries have to walk down the path to a more stable relationship,” she said.

“It is true many steps are being taken. It is probably also true that more steps have to be taken. We will continue to do that.”


Topics: Trade
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