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Australia against unilateral change to status quo on LAC: envoy

File photo of Barry O’Farrell.

File photo of Barry O’Farrell.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Australia on Thursday urged India and China to maintain restraint along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and expressed support to the ongoing efforts towards de-escalation. It said it opposed any attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo, which only served to increase tension and the risk of instability.

Australia rejects China's sea claims

“It is important that the bilaterally-agreed principles and norms that have helped prevent escalation or miscalculation in the border areas over many decades continue to be observed,” Australia’s High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell said in a statement.

Mr. O’Farrell pointed out that the Indo-Pacific region was grappling with the enormous challenges posed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and reiterated the Australian vision for an open, free, rules-based Indo-Pacific. “Territorial disputes and competing claims should be resolved peacefully by the claimant countries, and in ways consistent with international law,” he observed.

Mr. O’Farrell, without naming any country, said Australia remained deeply concerned by actions in the South China Sea (SCS) that were “destabilising and could provoke escalation.”

Won't interfere in border issue, says Australian envoy

On July 23, Australia lodged a note with the United Nations Secretary General, refuting China’s unlawful maritime claims in the SCS.

Malicious cyber actors

Australia expressed concern that in recent months, malicious cyber actors had sought to take advantage of the pandemic across the Indo-Pacific region and called on “all countries” to refrain from “behaviour which violates their international commitments.”

“We will work through multilateral and regional institutions to strengthen a rules-based cyberspace,” Mr. O’Farrell said, adding that Australia had announced a record allocation for cyber security, more than ₹7000 crore (AUD1.35 billion) and recruit 500 new experts.

On Tuesday, in a joint statement, Australia and the United States expressed “deep concern” over recent developments in Hong Kong, “repression of Uyghurs” in Xinjiang and China’s maritime claims in the SCS that were “not valid under international law”.

Quad | The confluence of four powers and two seas

The Chinese Embassy in Canberra reacted sharply, warning Australia Canberra that it should not “go further on the road of harming [bilateral] relations” and that “any attempt to pressure China will never succeed.”

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Printable version | Aug 13, 2020 8:04:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/australia-against-unilateral-change-to-status-quo-on-lac-envoy/article32232413.ece

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