Friday 30 Sep 2022 | 12:56 | SYDNEY
Friday 30 Sep 2022 | 12:56 | SYDNEY

South China Sea: Spot the difference


Sam Roggeveen


13 August 2010 13:30

In his review of yesterday's foreign policy debate, Rory Medcalf noticed something odd about Foreign Minister Smith's remarks on the South China Sea:

Smith's remark that he had personally aired concerns to the PLA about China's behaviour in the South China Sea was welcome. His suggestion that these issues should be resolved bilaterally – for instance, between China and Vietnam – was not. Surely Canberra, and Labor, cannot be comfortable with the notion that weaker players should negotiate on security issues one-on-one with an increasingly powerful China, and without recourse to multilateral frameworks'

Here's what Smith actually said in the debate (from the ALP's transcript), in response to a question from Linda Mottram (emphasis added):

Our officials raised in the East Asia Summit meetings, issues about the South China Seas. We would want those issues to be resolved bilaterally between the countries concerned, China and Vietnam in particular.

And here's what Smith said in an interview with Linda Mottram immediately after the debate (again, emphasis mine): 

I've also raised with, for example, General Guo, the Vice Chair of their Central Military Commission, when he came to Australia for ministerial level defence consultations, our concern about South China Sea issues. Our officials have also raised this, as we want those issues to be resolved amicably between the countries concerned, particularly China and Vietnam, where there had been tensions.

Maybe Smith noticed his error and tried to fix it'