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Thu, 14 May, 2020

Julie Bishop slammed over China comments

Julie Bishop slammed over China comments

Former foreign minister Julie Bishop has copped an attack from a former colleague after urging “calm and considered diplomacy” behind the scenes with China.

Bishop said Australia should opt more a quiet diplomacy and work with other countries to persuade China to sign up for an independent global inquiry into the handling of the coronavirus.

Beijing has threatened consumer boycotts after Prime Minister Scott Morrison pushed for a global review.

Speaking at a virtual Lowy Institute event, Bishop said she was “surprised” with China’s reaction.

“It is regrettable that [the call for an inquiry] has now descended into name calling and tensions and inflammatory rhetoric,” she said.

“We need China’s cooperation and support in order for there to be an international investigation.”

She said the push for a global review needed to include other countries’ management of the pandemic, including the United States.

Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, who was a junior minister to Bishop, said the statement was an “air-head comment”.

“Another air-head comment from the ‘couch’. We had 6 years of ‘Instagram diplomacy’ that ignored CCP skulduggery and ‘debt trap diplomacy’!” Fierravanti-Wells said on Twitter.

Fierravanti-Wells has previously called on the Coalition government to decrease economic dependence on China and sought “reparations” from the country over coronavirus.

“It is incumbent on the government to investigate all possible ways to recover damages for health costs and damage to our economy,” she told parliament.

The senator also wanted the lease of Darwin’s port to a Beijing-linked company reviewed.

“I am concerned that the CCP is taking advantage of the pandemic to further its insidious debt-trap diplomacy by taking advantage of economically stressed nation-states through the Belt and Road Initiative.”