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Liz Truss has been called “crazy” for taking a hard-line stance on China in a surprising outburst from a former Australian prime minister.
Paul Keating, who was Labor prime minister in the early 1990s, lashed out at the foreign minister after she used a visit to Australia to criticize economic bullying and the military threat from Beijing.
Keating, 77, who had previously been seen as an apologist for the communist regime, has also lashed out at Boris Johnson’s government in general, calling it “disgraceful” in a stunning tirade in a little-known Australian newspaper.
‘[Her comments of his] are nothing short of insane. Not just irrational, insane’, he wrote in an op-ed, calling his words ‘nonsense’.
Ms Truss has been in Australia for high-level meetings in recent days and said China taking advantage of the Ukraine situation “cannot be ruled out”.
“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,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Keating, who while prime minister between 1991 and 1996 directed Australian foreign policy towards Asia, is a frequent apologist for China.
He has disparaged the AUKUS alliance between Australia, the US and the UK and ridiculed Britain’s ability to be a force in the Asia-Pacific at the National Press Club last year, comparing the UK to “an old theme park slipping into the Atlantic’.
This weekend he gave Britain’s “delusions of grandeur and disregard” another chance by thinking he could chip away at China’s influence.
‘The reality is that Britain does not join 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 returned. ” he wrote.
Ms Truss criticized China for its “economic coercion” of Australia last week, saying Beijing’s bullying was a “wake-up call” to other countries.
China, which had been Australia’s biggest trading partner, introduced tariffs and other trade actions against the country on exports of barley, wine, beef, seafood and charcoal as the relationship between the two nations soured in 2020.
Speaking in Sydney, Ms Truss said the UK and Australia were determined to act together to ‘call out China’ when it blocks products from Lithuania or imposes ‘punitive tariffs on Australian barley and wine’.
“The situation with Australia, the economic coercion that we saw, was one of the wake-up calls as to what exactly China was doing and how it was using its economic might to try to exert control over other countries,” she said.
She said Australia and the UK are “facing global challenges with multiple aggressors… We are seeing the alignment of authoritarian regimes around the world.”
This further infuriated Keating, who also used the opportunity to criticize British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s current problems.
“Truss would be doing us all a favor by returning to her disreputable and collapsing government, leaving Australia to find its own way in Asia,” he wrote.
She said Ms Truss, who many point to as the UK’s next prime minister, is “wistfully searching for the lost worlds of 19th and 20th century Britain”.
- Paul Keating, Labor PM from 1991-96, lashed out at the Foreign Secretary
- She used a visit to Australia to hit out at Beijing’s economic and military bullying
- Keating, 77, has previously been seen as an apologist for the communist regime
- He also lashed out at Boris Johnson’s government, branding it ‘disreputable’