Australian PM Rejects Chinese Criticism09/17 06:14
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday rejected Chinese criticism of
Australia's new nuclear submarine alliance with the United States and said he
doesn't mind that President Joe Biden might have forgotten his name.
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday rejected
Chinese criticism of Australia's new nuclear submarine alliance with the United
States and said he doesn't mind that President Joe Biden might have forgotten
China reacted angrily when Biden, Morrison and British Prime Minister Boris
Johnson used a virtual news conference this week to announce a trilateral
defense alliance that will provide Australia with a fleet of at least eight
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Zhao Lijian said it was
"highly irresponsible" for the U.S. and Britain to export the nuclear
Morrison said Australia wanted to boost peace and stability in the
"Everything we've done with the United States is consistent with the
partnerships and relationships and alliances we've already had with the United
States," Morrison said.
Australia's nearest neighbor after Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, was "deeply
concerned over the continuing arms race and power projection in the region,"
the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
News of the alliance received a positive response in Singapore. The city
state's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told Morrison in a phone call he hoped
the nuclear deal would "contribute constructively to the peace and stability of
the region and complement the regional architecture," Singapore's Ministry of
Foreign Affairs said.
French leaders and the European Union are angered at being excluded from the
alliance that scuppers a contract with France to build 12 conventional
diesel-electric submarines for Australia.
Observers say Biden appeared to have forgotten Morrison's name during
Thursday's news conference, which was televised from three countries. The
president referred to the Australian as "pal" and "that fellow Down Under."
Biden didn't use Morrison's name, while he referred to Johnson as "Boris."
It reminded Australians of when then-President Donald Trump's spokesman Sean
Spicer repeatedly referred to Morrison's predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull, in 2017
as "Mr. Trumble."
Morrison laughed off what some have described as an awkward exchange with
Biden that undermined Australia's significance to the United States.
"Usually when we speak privately, he refers to me as 'pal,'" Morrison said.
Morrison said he and the president enjoyed a great working relationship.
"Oh, I didn't pay much attention to it. I mean, these things happen. They
happen frequently," Morrison said. "From time to time, you know, I've been
known to let the odd name slip from my memory -- that's pretty normal in our
line of work, I've got to be honest."
Morrison said he referred to Biden as "Mr. President" or "mate" in private
Morrison will visit the United States next week for the first time since
Biden became president. They will be joined by the leaders of India and Japan
for a meeting of the Quad security dialogue.