Australian officials denounce colleague's "incendiary" comments on China

Source: Xinhua| 2019-08-11 21:01:34|Editor: Li Xia
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CANBERRA, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) -- Some senior members of the Australian government have distanced themselves from a colleague's inflammatory comments on their nation's relationship with China.

Simon Birmingham, the minister for trade, tourism and investment, on Sunday urged his colleagues to question the necessity of potentially damaging public comments.

Birmingham's remarks were in response to a newspaper column by Andrew Hastie, a member of parliament for the governing Liberal-National party coalition, in which he made an analogy between China in the present and Germany in 1940.

Birmingham, who was in China early this month for negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, said that it was in the national interest to engage constructively with China, Australia's biggest trading partner.

"Our undertakings with China are that we engage directly with them in a thoughtful manner," he said during an appearance on Australian Broadcasting Corporation television.

He was joined in repudiating Hastie by Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann and Attorney-General Christian Porter.

"The relationship with China is far more complex and mature than is indicated in Andrew's article," Porter told Macquarie Media radio.

The opposition Australian Labor Party has publicly denounced Hastie's opinion, with deputy leader Richard Marles on Sunday describing the column as "incendiary."