A key Morrison government minister and a central figure in the relationship with China has defended the comments of his colleague Peter Dutton, while saying the policies of the Asian giant are inconsistent with those of Australia.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton drew the wrath of the Chinese Embassy on Friday after also attacking the Communist Party over the theft of intellectual property and the hacking of government or non-government organisations.
The Chinese embassy rejected Mr Dutton’s comments, calling them “irrational”, “shocking”, “baseless” and a “malicious slur”.
But Resources Minister Matt Canavan said Mr Dutton was just stating the facts.
“Obviously, our system of government … is inconsistent with those of communist regime’s and that has been a long established fact,” he told Sky News on Sunday.
China is Australia’s number one trading partner, consuming billions of dollars of iron ore and coal exports each year.
Senator Canavan said Australia pursued strong trading relationships with all different types of countries.
“But those trading relationships are never made subservient to our broader principles and values,” he said.
Despite the strong trading relationship between the two countries, he said the Coalition government will always stand up for the national interest, which has created tensions in the past.
The government was the first not to back Chinese state-owned enterprises making large investments in Australian agricultural land.
“We’ve also, of course, made decisions protecting out telecommunication network, and we make no apology for that because we’re defending our national interest,” the Nationals Senator said.
This latest verbal stoush between Australia and China comes as the ABC says its investigative Four Corners program has obtained documents showing Australia’s peak Chinese student body reports to and is partly funded by the Chinese Embassy.
The Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) promotes itself as an autonomous group under the guidance of the Chinese Embassy and has branches at universities across Australia.
But, according to the documents, the mission of the association in Canberra is to “assist the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China” while helping students and promoting exchanges.