News & Current Affairs
15 July 2014
Julie Bishop 'appalled Chinese people', state-run newspaper says
Minister accused of acting like an angry youth after she said Australia was willing to stand up for liberal democratic values
A state-run Chinese newspaper has compared Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, to an angry youth and described Australia as a place with a history of being “roamed by rascals and outlaws”.
A Global Times editorial said Bishop had “appalled Chinese people” with her comments last week, when the foreign minister said in an interview with Fairfax Media that Australia was willing to stand up for liberal democratic values and the rule of law and added: “China doesn’t respect weakness.”
In the interview, Bishop defended the decision to speak out against China’s declaration of an air-defence zone over an island chain also claimed by Japan, a decision that earned her a rebuke from her Chinese counterpart in December.
The scathing Chinese editorial comes in the wake of the visit by the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, to Australia, when he addressed a joint sitting of parliament.
Australia and Japan agreed to a new defence relationship that would share military developments, in a move that may be viewed unfavourably by China.
The editorial took aim at Bishop and said her comments “appeared to have come out of nowhere”.
“Many Chinese people who read about this could not believe these words came from the Australian foreign minister,” it said. “China is Australia's biggest trade partner and has not offended Australia in any way. Bishop's verbal provocation made her look more like one of the often pointless ‘angry youths’ found in the Chinese cybersphere than a diplomat.
“For many Chinese people, Australia is a good place for business, travel and higher education. That's about it. There is no point in China being overly upset by Bishop's words. However, the current Australian government's moves do not fit the Asia-Pacific stage.”
The editorial also questioned Australia’s human rights record, citing its treatment of its Indigenous population. “Australia's history is not short of records of human rights infringement on the Aboriginal population. The country used to be a place roamed by rascals and outlaws from Europe. Perhaps it has to boast its values to cover up its actual lack of confidence in front of western countries.”
Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, Tanya Plibersek, also criticised Bishop’s comments last week.