Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop belittled the possibility of strife between the United States and China over South China Sea, according to the news. However, the foreign minister cautioned China not to make any declaration of Air Defense Zone or ADIZ in the vicinity.
In 2013, China declared an Air Defense Identification Zone over the East China Sea, igniting condemnation from Australia, United States and Japan.
Bishop spoke at the Lowy Institute in Sydney and said both China and the U.S. understand how tragic it would be for two powerful countries to engage in a conflict.
The South China Sea has been a source of territorial conflicts between China and neighboring nations with the former laying claims on almost the entire territory, including areas from the shoreline.
Bishop expressed concerns on the possibility of raising tensions, risking miscalculation or misjudgment from any unilateral action in South China Sea and said further that any action might also lead to some conflict.
The foreign minister also took advantage of the opportunity to reiterate that “Australia had been right” in raising concerns on the ADIZ and would not hesitate to do it again notwithstanding the “potential negative economic impact” the decision could have.
Australia’s 40 percent of imports and 60 percent of exports navigate through the South China Sea. Bishop urged all nations interested in freedom of navigation across and over South China Sea to have Beijing know their intentions.
Last week, a report said that Australia considered hovering a P-3 maritime reconnaissance aircraft within the 12-nautical miles of China’s artificial island. But an Australian senior military officer said the Aussie ships and aircraft are part of normal activities in South China Sea. The state-run media has been publishing columns threatening Australia for its aircraft flying over the region.
Some concerns are brewing that China may have been equipping the artificial island with heavy weapons before it will declare an air defense zone. Vice-Admiral David Johnston, the chief of joint operations confirmed to the media on Thursday that Aussie ships and maritime patrol aircraft are in South China Sea now but only for routine operations, which Australia has been doing for many years.
Australia has just concluded its 10-day exercise with Malaysia, Singapore, United Kingdom and New Zealand. The said exercise included activities conducted in the South China Sea.