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Australian PM's bungle backs Beijing's ambitions on Taiwan

Scott Morrison confuses 'one country, two systems' framework in Hong Kong with 'one China' policy for Taiwan

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media in Sydney, Australia, Monday, April 19, 2021.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media in Sydney, Australia, Monday, April 19, 2021. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison seemed to confuse his country's policy toward Taiwan with that of Hong Kong, during a radio interview on Thursday (May 6),

Morrison was interviewed by broadcaster Neil Mitchell on Melbourne radio station 3AW. In the interview, Mitchell noted that Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) had been cited by Financial Review as saying that Taiwan is preparing for a "final assault" by China and asked if Australia would "stand with Taiwan?"

Morrison responded by saying that Australia has always honored its commitments in the Indo-Pacific region, especially with the U.S. He claimed to be aware of "uncertainties" in the region and added he did not want to add to any uncertainty.

He explained that this was the reason why Australia has security arrangements in place. However, he then said, "We've always understood the one system, two countries arrangement and we will continue to follow our policies there."

Apparently realizing that he had gotten his word order mixed up, he hastily corrected himself and said, "'One country, two systems,' I should say." Mitchell then pressed Morrison to confirm that it meant that Australia would indeed "stand with Taiwan."

Morrison evaded a direct answer by stammering, "We always have stood for freedom in our part of the world."

The "one country, two systems" framework is used in Hong Kong, and many pro-democracy activists argue that it has been seriously degraded over the past two years, particularly with the draconian Hong Kong national security law.

What Morrison probably meant is Australia's "one China" policy, in which it only provides official diplomatic recognition to China, while having informal relations with Taiwan. Both major political parties in Taiwan have rejected Beijing's proposal of imposing the "one country, two systems" model as a form of annexation.