“Australia urges restraint along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), and supports continued moves towards de-escalation," Australian envoy said

New Delhi: Australia in an unambiguous message for China on Thursday stated that it opposed any attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo at LAC, which only serve to increase tension and the risk of instability.

“Australia urges restraint along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), and supports continued moves towards de-escalation....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,” Australian envoy to India Barry O’Farrell stated after meeting External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

In clear message for China the envoy emphasised, “Australia remains deeply concerned by actions in the South China Sea that are destabilising and could provoke escalation. On 23 July, Australia lodged a note with the UN Secretary General refuting China’s unlawful maritime claims in the South China Sea. It rejects China’s claim to historic rights and internal waters, its assertion of certain maritime zones, and its contention there is wide international recognition of its South China Sea sovereignty claims.”

The envoy further stated, “Our vision for the Indo-Pacific remains unchanged and is for an open, free, rules- based region; a region resilient to coercion and supported by inclusive global and regional institutions that promote prosperous, stable and sovereign states based on shared interest. Territorial disputes and competing claims should be resolved peacefully by the claimant countries, and in ways consistent with international law. Each country in the region has the agency to shape not just how our region emerges from COVID-19, but how we use this test to reinforce a regional order guided by agreed rules and international law.”

Referring to China-led cyber attacks on Australia, the envoy stated, “In recent months, malicious cyber actors have sought to take advantage of the pandemic across the Indo-Pacific region. We call 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. Australia has announced a record boost to cyber security spending – more than Rs 7000 crore (AUD1.35 billion) recruit 500 new experts.”