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Taiwan warns Australia about ‘hidden’ Chinese agenda

Beijing is pursuing a “divide and conquer” strategy as it cultivates ties with Canberra, Taipei’s envoy has claimed

FILE PHOTO: Anthony Albanese and Xi Jinping. ©  James Brickwood / Sydney Morning Herald via Getty Images

Taiwan has warned Australia to be wary of a rapprochement with China, claiming that President Xi Jinping could be attempting to drive a wedge between Western countries.

In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age published on Monday, Douglas Hsu, who was recently appointed as Taiwan’s chief representative to Canberra, warned that Xi may have a “hidden agenda” in bilateral relations.

Insisting that he has nothing against improved ties between China and Australia, and that he understands the desire to ramp up trade, Hsu urged Canberra to look beyond what he called the “rosy pictures” painted by Xi about bilateral relations.

“Their strategy is basically divide and conquer,” the envoy argued. “We don’t want to see a very troublesome world, but we have to keep in mind and look at the track record that Beijing has.”

Hsu also complained about what he described as “more aggressive behaviors from China” in recent years. The comments came after Taiwanese defense officials said they had registered more than 103 aircraft belonging to Beijing’s military operating near the island between Sunday and Monday.

READ MORE: US to redirect millions of dollars in military aid to Taiwan – WSJ

The Taiwanese envoy further urged Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to use his upcoming visit to China to send a clear message that Canberra would not accept any “unilateral change to the status quo by force” in the Taiwan Strait.

Earlier this month, Australia and China held their first high-level dialogue in several years after a period of decline in relations which saw Canberra enter into a partnership with the US and UK to procure nuclear-powered submarines.

The security situation around Taiwan – which China considers part of its sovereign territory – has been marked by heightened tensions, with Beijing staging regular military exercises in the region in recent months. Last year, Xi said that while China wants peaceful reunification with the island, it would not rule out the use of force.

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