Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his attitude towards communist China

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In August 2018, Peter Dutton challenged Turnbull for the leadership of the Liberal Party. Turnbull defeated Dutton, but tensions continued to mount and the party voted in favour of holding a second ballot; Turnbull chose not to be a candidate. In that second vote on 24 August, Morrison emerged as a compromise candidate, defeating Dutton and Julie Bishop to become Leader of the Liberal Party. He was sworn in as Prime Minister later that day.

In what he called a miracle, Morrison defeated Labor leader Bill Shorten and went on to lead the Coalition to an upset victory in the 2019 election.

Morrison was born in Waverley, Sydney. His father was a policeman who served on the Waverley Municipal Council for 16 years, including for a brief period as mayor.

Scott Morrison is called by many as Australia’s Donald Trump. Ideologically, Morrison identifies himself as a pragmatic conservative. He was raised in the Presbyterian Church of Australia, which partly merged into the Uniting Church when he was a child. He later became a Pentecostal, and now attends the Horizon Church, which is affiliated with the Australian Christian Churches and the Assemblies of God.

Morrison has said “the Bible is not a policy handbook, and I get very worried when people try to treat it like one”. In late 2017, Morrison stated that he would become a stronger advocate for protections for religious freedom.

During the Wentworth by-election campaign, Scott Morrison announced reviewing whether Australia’s embassy in Israel should move to from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In December 2018, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Australia has recognised West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel but will not immediately move its embassy from Tel Aviv.

Morrison had served as Treasurer in the Turnbull Government. In October 2018, The Economist described Australia as possessing “the world’s most successful economy”.

In December 2018, Morrison and Frydenberg won support from the Liberal Party room for a change in Party rules regarding leadership spills, and announced that a sitting prime minister who has won an election could no longer be removed by the Party room unless there was a two-thirds majority calling for the change. Opposition Leaders could still be challenged with a simple majority. Morrison said the move was in response to public disgust at the repeated rolling of Prime Ministers over the preceding decade.

The election of Scott Morrison as the 30th Prime Minister of Australia on Friday is unlikely to lead to a major shift in Canberra’s vitally important, yet often tense relationship with China, according to SCMP.

Under Turnbull, Morrison was a key member of the government responsible for introducing new foreign interference laws earlier this year that have strained relations with Beijing.

In Foreign Affairs, the Morrison Government has prioritised a “pivot to the Pacific” and sought to conclude a Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. The “pivot to the Pacific” has been read as a way of undermining Chinese influence in the region. Its engagement with the region has largely become a means to the end of strategic competition with China.

In November 2018, Morrison privately raised the issue of Xinjiang re-education camps and human rights abuses against the Uyghur Muslim minority in a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Singapore.

In 2016, as treasurer, Morrison blocked the sale of New South Wales electricity provider Ausgrid to Beijing-run State Grid Corp and Hong Kong-listed Cheung Kong Infrastructure for unspecified national security reasons.

Morrison, while carrying out a brief stint as acting minister for home affairs, announced that Chinese telecom firm Huawei would be barred from Australia’s 5G network.

Last year, Morrison introduced new rules forcing foreign homeowners, most of whom are Chinese, to pay a charge if their property sits empty for half of the year or more, a reform designed to open up the rental market.

In a speech to the Sydney-based Lowy Institute for International Policy in 2016, Morrison warned of the “great danger” in following populist demands to restrict immigration, foreign investment and free trade.

Edited by staff

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