Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s call for China to cut off its oil pipeline to North Korea has prompted a fierce rebuke from a high-circulating Chinese newspaper, which accused him of going beyond even Donald Trump.
The Global Times, which sells more than one million copies, devoted an editorial to Mr Turnbull’s “indiscreet” and “absurd” comments, and saying Australia was a “second class citizen of the West”.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on TV in South Korea this week Photo: AP
“Although President Trump has complained about China in contradictory statements, he has so far never publicly asked China to cut North Korea’s oil supply,” the Global Times wrote.
The editorial said Australia had become America’s loudspeaker in the Asia Pacific.
“This speaker works very hard, and very proud, but more and more it becomes local noise, self-righteously blah blah blahing.”
It has been reported elsewhere that the US, Japan and Britain are pushing for a UN Security Council resolution to cut oil supplies to North Korea as a sanction for its latest missile launch over Japan.
In the past, Chinese analysts have suggested cutting its main oil pipeline to North Korea was a last resort for Beijing, to be used to sanction a sixth nuclear test.
South Korean F-15 fighter jets drop bombs over the Korean Peninsula. On Thursday four US stealth fighter jets joined jets from South Korea and Japan in a live-fire drill over the Korean Peninsula. Photo: South Korea Defence Ministry via AP
South Korean intelligence has reported North Korea appears to be preparing for a nuclear test.
The Global Times said: “Australia does not have to pay or bear the loss for sanctions against North Korea. Even if war breaks out in [the] peninsula, refugees would not run to Australia. How can people not hate such a country who plays high-profile from a far distance and tries to instruct China what to do.”
China’s foreign ministry has this week stepped up its criticism of US allies who are calling for China to do more to curb North Korea’s missile launches – but not by name.
The Global Times is part of the official People’s Daily newspaper group, and its editor is known to be close to China’s foreign ministry.
Mr Turnbull’s demand that China cut oil to North Korea was “more excessive” than British prime minister Theresa May’s call on Tuesday for China to “do its best” to control North Korea, the editorial said.
In the same radio interview, Mr Turnbull acknowledged China’s support for new UN sanctions that would cut $1.5 billion in trade with North Korea from next week.
The Global Times attack on Mr Turnbull comes as the University of Melbourne’s Asialink Centre said in a report on Friday that Australia risked becoming the “lonely country”, increasingly out of step with its region, particularly in attitudes to China.
Professor Anthony Milner and Jennifer Fang wrote: “When it comes to China’s regional and international leadership, the gap between our views and those of our neighbours is troubling …
“Australians are increasingly focussed on China. But our preoccupations seem narrow, limited and consistently negative – a surprising thing, given we are more economically entangled with China than any other regional country.”
Professor Milner told Fairfax Media that Mr Turnbull’s call for China to cut its oil supply was a good example of Australia “clinging more tightly to the US”.
By Kirsty Needham
Sydney Morning Herald