Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating has accused Liz Truss of making “insane” comments about Chinese military aggression and urged the British Foreign Secretary to hurry to “return his collapsing and disreputable government”.
Keating, in a scorching opinion piece, also said Britain “suffers from delusions of grandeur and deprivation of relevance” and its Indo-Pacific bias lacks credibility.
The former Labor leader, who served as prime minister from 1991 to 1996, has long pushed for a “compromise” with China, but now finds himself increasingly at odds with the bipartisan consensus in Canberra to take a stronger line against China. Beijing.
Keating took aim at Truss, who visited Australia to meet with his counterparts last week, after a report said he had warned that China could use a Russian invasion of Ukraine as an opportunity to launch its own aggression in the Indo-Pacific.
“I don’t think we can rule it out,” Truss was reported saying during an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
“Russia is working more closely with China than ever. The aggressors are working together and I think it is up to countries like ours to work together.”
Keating, who has previously said Australia should not come to Taiwan’s aid should Beijing launch an attempt to invade the self-governing island, criticized Truss’s comments.
“Statements by British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss that China might engage in military aggression in the Pacific, encouraged by Russia’s contingent moves against Ukraine, are nothing short of insane,” Keating said in a statement. an opinion piece published on the public policy blog Pearls and Irritations on Saturday.
“Not just irrational, insane.”
Keating also said the reality is that Britain “doesn’t add a row of beans when it comes to East Asia.”
“Britain pulled its main battle fleet out of East Asia in 1904 and finally packaged it with its ‘East of Suez’ policy in the 1970s. And it has never come back,” Keating said in comments that gained prominence. when reported by The Australian newspaper on Monday.
“Britain suffers from delusions of grandeur and deprivation of relevance.”
Keating said that the British and Australian governments were “joking to the rest of us that their ‘cooperation’ added up to a workable policy”.
“Truss would be doing us all a favor by returning to his disreputable and collapsing government, leaving Australia to find its own way in Asia.”
During his visit, Truss addressed the Lowy Institute in Sydney and warned Russia that any invasion of Ukraine would only lead to “a terrible quagmire and loss of life” on the scale of the Soviet-Afghan war.
Truss said after a meeting with Australia’s defense and foreign ministers that Australia was “an absolutely crucial ally and friend” at a time of “increasing economic coercion from China”.
In Sydney, he endorsed Boris Johnson, saying he was doing “a fantastic job” as prime minister, had his “100% support” and should stay at No. 10 “as long as possible.”
This is not the first time that Keating has targeted the UK for its “tilt” towards the Indo-Pacific. In a speech in November, Keating said Britain was “like an old theme park sliding into the Atlantic compared to modern China.”
Keating, a longtime advocate of Australia becoming a republic, was once dubbed the “Lizard of Oz” by British tabloids after he put his hand on the Queen’s back in 1992.
He has staunchly opposed the Aukus pact, sealed in September, in which the UK and the US promised to help Australia acquire at least eight nuclear-powered submarines.
However, the party that Keating previously led has largely sought to avoid major points of difference with the Morrison government on foreign policy in the run-up to federal elections in May this year.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said China has become “much more progressive” and Australia is “right to stand up for our own values”, saying Australian companies have been “suffering” as a result of a series of trade actions. . launched by Beijing as the relationship deteriorated.
Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton in november brand the former prime minister as “Great Conciliator Comrade Keating.”
Dutton later said it would be “inconceivable” for Australia not to join the US if the main security ally defended Taiwan in a war with China, prompting accusations that the minister was politicizing national security in the period prior to the elections.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism