Liz Truss’s comments on China are ‘demented’, says former Australian PM

Liz Truss is “demented” for comparing Chinese aggression in the Indo Pacific region to the possible invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the former prime minister of Australia has said.

The Foreign Secretary suggested that Moscow and Beijing were working together as they looked to dominate their spheres of influence in an interview in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Paul Keating, a former Labor leader who left office in 1996, accused Britain and its “disreputable government” of suffering from “delusions of grandeur and relevance deprivation”.

Asked if China could copy Russia’s tactics against Ukraine, Ms Truss said, ‘‘I don’t think we can rule that out.’’

“Russia is working more closely with China than it ever has. Aggressors are working in concert and I think it’s incumbent on countries like ours to work together,” she said.

Ms Truss and Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, were in Australia last week for talks on countering Chinese influence in the region.

Mr Keating, 78, said Ms Truss’s statement was “nothing short of demented”.

“Not simply irrational, demented,” he added.

‘Desperate’ effort to promote UK interests

He said that the UK Government was “disreputable” and “collapsing” in an attack that puts him at odds with cross-party agreement in Australia to condemn Chinese aggression.

Mr Keating branded the visit by Ms Truss and Mr Wallace as a “desperate” effort to push the UK as a strategic partner to contain China.

He has called for “deeper engagement” with Beijing and previously said Australia should not help Taiwan if China was ever to invade.

Mr Keating, who lost a landslide election after five years as prime minister, said: “The reality is Britain does not add up to a row of beans when it comes to east Asia.

“Britain took its main battle fleet out of east Asia in 1904 and finally packed it in with its ‘east of Suez’ policy in the 1970s. And it has never been back.

“Britain suffers delusions of grandeur and relevance deprivation,” he added. “Truss would do us all a favour by hightailing it back to her collapsing, disreputable government, leaving Australia to find its own way in Asia.”

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