AUSTRALIAN politicians controversially backed up allegations from an MP that compared China’s rise in global affairs to that of Nazi Germany and warned Canberra to act against the supposed threat.
Andrew Hastie drew ire from Beijing and some of the opposition benches last week after suggesting that Australia were in a similar situation to France in World War 2. However, claiming that Australia had failed “to see how mobile our authoritarian neighbour” China had become, the Liberal MP also received praise from all sides of parliament. The controversy comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison pledged another $500million (£300million) on development in the Pacific – a move believed to be aimed at limiting China’s influence in the region.
Mr Hastie – one of the more junior committee chairs in the Australian parliament – was supported by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who suggested that the outspoken MP’s insider knowledge justified the comments.
Mr Dutton said: “Andrew is privy to a lot of information and intelligence briefings others aren’t.
“Foreign interference in our country is at an all-time high.”
Fellow Liberal MP David Sharma also chimed in his approval, suggesting that Australia desperately needed to prepare – or face similar consequences to occupied France.
He added: “In World War 2, we failed to realise early enough that German ambitions could not be accommodated.
“The point is, rising powers inevitably cause convulsions within the international system, and China’s rise is no different.
“If the rising power is revisionist in nature, and cannot be accommodated within the existing order — because it fundamentally does not accept the legitimacy of that order — then the future becomes much tougher.
“The ideological direction and ambition of China has become far more pronounced. Our strategy and thinking needs to reflect this shift.”
South China Sea crisis MAPPED as Beijing warns Trump over missile positions in region
He even received support from opposition MP Anthony Byrne, who sits as Mr Hastie’s vice-chair on the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.
The veteran MP said that, amid an “unprecedented” number of attempts to subvert Australian democracy, his words were needed.
Mr Hastie’s original article was published just after the Australia-US ministerial forum took place.
US Defence Secretary Mark Esper floated the idea of placing missiles all around Asia to counter China’s threat while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reaffirmed the military pact between Canberra and Washington.
Today Prime Minister Scott Morrison slammed President Xi Jinping’s administration for suggesting that the mass demonstrations in Hong Kong are showing “sprouts of terrorism”.
He said: “That’s certainly not the rhetoric that I would use to describe those events.”
The two have been on high alert for months over China’s supposed aggression in the South China Sea.
Beijing officials feel they are entitled to over 80 percent of the region, leading to disputes with several nations.
Mr Morrison has attempted to curb their growing influence through foreign aid.
In June the Liberal leader pledged £1.6billion to help their neighbouring nations.
Today at the Pacific Islands Forum, the Morrison government committed to spending another £280million to fighting climate change and disaster resilience in the Pacific.
Amid criticism from Labor politicians over the effectiveness of the new money, it is thought that Mr Morrison has been forced into political action to prevent Beijing taking over the South China Sea.
Last November he said: “Australia has an abiding interest in the South-west Pacific that is secure strategically, stable economically and sovereign politically.
“This is our patch. This is our part of the world.
“We are connected as members of a Pacific family.”
The tensions between Canberra and Beijing come as former defence strategist Hugh White, who wrote Australia’s Defence White Paper in 2000, said Australia should develop nuclear weapons as a deterrent for a future Chinese invasion.
He said: “The only way to avoid this appears to be to counter China’s nuclear threat with a nuclear threat of our own.
“China’s threat to Canberra would be much less credible if its leaders knew we had the capacity to retaliate.”