Tony Abbott stresses solidarity with Taiwan in Yushan Forum speech after Chinese jets fly near the island

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has described China as a “bully” and stressed the importance of “solidarity with Taiwan” while speaking at a regional conference on the island.

Sir. Abbott made the visit to Taiwan, where he met with President Tsai Ing-wen, after a weekend in which China flew dozens of military jets near the island as part of an attempt to exercise power over the territory.

Abbott, who is visiting Taiwan privately during a “diplomatic bubble,” said he had previously “hesitated to attend this conference so as not to provoke China,” but said the superpower had changed its position in recent years.

Ms. Tsai launched the Yushan Forum, sponsored by a government-backed think tank, with a more restrained speech that omitted any direct mention of China before Abbott listed a number of violations in his keynote address.

“It has strengthened cyber espionage against its own citizens, annulled popular personalities in favor of a cult of the Red Emperor, brutalized Indian soldiers in the Himalayas, forced other plaintiffs into its eastern seas and flown increasingly frightening sorties against Taiwan.

“It is arms trade – especially against Australia – with our barley, wine and coal exports all stopped on false grounds. And its embassy has published 14 demands, mainly that we become a run-up state that no self-respecting country could accept.

The trigger for all this was politely seeking an impartial inquiry into the origins of [corona]virus. So this year, I’m here after concluding that China’s warfare is all self – generated. “

Abbott then referred to the positive, including China’s economic growth and previous steps taken by Australia to help bring China into the global order, saying “cooperation is still possible and trust can still be rebuilt”.

Chinese leaders have said they are determined to unite Taiwan and the mainland by force if necessary. But Mr Abbott said it was crucial to ensure Taiwan’s self-determination.

“Nothing is more urgent right now than solidarity with Taiwan,” he said.

“Our challenge is to try to ensure that the unthinkable remains improbable and that the possible does not become the probable.

“That’s why Taiwan’s friends are so important now, to stress that Taiwan’s future must be decided by its own people and let Beijing know that any attempt at coercion would have incalculable consequences.”

AP

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