Morrison calls on US and China to ditch 'law of the jungle'
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called on the United States and China to respect international law and settle their disputes peacefully, as tensions between the two powers intensify.
In a speech via video link at the Aspen Security Forum in the US this morning, Mr Morrison said both Washington and Beijing had a "special responsibility" to uphold international rules.
The superpowers are involved in disputes over espionage, trade and China's military build-up in the South China Sea.
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"The liberal rules and norms of the American Century are under assault. 'The jungle is growing back', as [American historian] Robert Kagan has observed," Mr Morrison said.
"We need to tend to the gardening. That means respecting international law and the peaceful resolution of disputes. It means a commitment to rules-based economic interaction. Neither coercion nor abdication from international systems is the way forward."
Mr Morrison also criticised the US President Donald Trump's America First policy on global trade.
The Trump Administration has rolled back free trade agreements and hit multiple US allies and partners with tariffs.
Mr Morrison said the policy threatens long standing security partnerships in the western world.
"We should avoid cases where we build closer strategic cooperation, only to see the cohesiveness of those relationships undermined by trade disputes," he said.
The Prime Minister also outlined how Australia was building deeper defence and economic links with major nations in Asia, including Indonesia, Japan and India, to counter China's growing power.
"A critical priority is to build a durable strategic balance in the Indo-Pacific. For more like-minded nations to act more cohesively, more consistently, more often," he said.