CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — China’s ambassador to Australia on Thursday criticized Australian politicians who visit Taiwan, saying they are being utilized by separatists on the self-governing island.
Ambassador Xiao Qian was commenting in Sydney after an Australian parliamentary delegation visited Taiwan this week, and as a former prime minister plans to deliver a speech in Taipei next month. China considers Taiwan to be part of its territory.
Xiao said Australian parliamentarians and former prime ministers who visit Taiwan “carry political significance.”
“It might be easily utilized by the political forces in Taiwan for their independent forces movement, for their secession movement, and I don’t want to see that happen,” Xiao told reporters.
“I hope they will stick to the ‘one-China policy’ in words and indeed, refrain from engaging with Taiwan in whichever form or capacity so that they will not be politically utilized by people in the island with political motives,” Xiao said. The “one-China policy” holds that the Communist Party is the government of China and Taiwan is a part of the country.
The Chinese government on Wednesday accused Taiwan’s governing party of seeking independence, a day after President Tsai Ing-wen lobbied for Australia’s support in joining a regional trade pact during a meeting with six visiting Australian lawmakers.
Former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison plans to speak at the Yushan Forum in Taipei from Oct. 11 to 12, which focuses on Taiwan’s cooperation with neighboring countries.
Australia’s relationship with China plummeted under Morrison’s four-year rule, which ended when his conservative coalition government was defeated by the center-left Labor Party in elections last year.
Morrison remains an opposition lawmaker in Parliament.
Bilateral relations have improved under the new Australian government and Anthony Albanese this year will become the first Australian prime minister to visit Beijing in seven years.