Scott Morrison – Scott Morrison backed by France on China
“We stand shoulder to shoulder with our friends,” Johnson told reporters at Downing Street.
“But I think I probably speak for Scott as well when I say nobody wants to descend into a new Cold War with China. We don’t see that as the way forward.
“This is a difficult relationship where it is vital to engage with China in as positive a way as we can.”
Asked what aspects of China’s behaviour concerned him most, Johnson nominated its treatment of the Uighurs, the people of Hong Kong, and the way it acts towards the region and Australia in particular.
Tuesday’s comments by Macron and Johnson capped off a significant week on the international community’s response to China.
The G7 summit in Britain condemned Beijing for human rights abuses and its use of “non-market policies and practices which undermine” the global economy, while NATO also declared China poses “systemic challenges” to international order.
After arriving at the French President’s official Paris residence for a working dinner, Morrison praised Macron as one of Europe’s most substantial leaders.
“The work you have done in supporting and standing with Australia as we go through some difficult times Indo-Pacific – we greatly appreciate that,” he said.
Morrison landed in Paris on Tuesday after earlier announcing an in-principle agreement had been struck for a new free trade deal between Australia and Britain.
The Prime Minister is expected to use the dinner with Macron to raise the government’s dissatisfaction with the troubled $90 billion deal with French company Naval Group for a fleet of new submarines.
Defence earlier this month confirmed it was looking at alternatives if the agreement does not go ahead.
Macron called the submarines a “pillar of our partnership and of the relationship of trust between our two countries”.