Prime Minister Scott Morrison has defended refusing to meet with China’s new ambassador to Australia.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported Xiao Qian had asked for a meeting with Mr Morrison, but was refused.
Xiao met with Foreign Minister Marise Payne instead.
Morrison was asked why he knocked back the request at a press conference today.
“For the same reason that President Xi doesn’t meet with our ambassador in China,” he said.
“When we have a situation where China has completely blocked any minister-to-minister dialogue, until that block is removed, I think Australians would think it would be very inappropriate for me to engage with that ambassador.”
The Prime Minister described the rebuff as “entirely proportional”.
Mr Morrison was also questioned about the possibility China will establish a military base in the Solomon Islands.
“There is great concern across the Pacific family,” he said.
“We stepped up in the face of increasing threats and increasing pressures and we will respond as a family of Pacific nations.”
He touted the work his government has been doing in the Solomon Islands in recent years.
“We are the Solomon Islands’ single largest development partner. Daylight second, third, fourth,” he said.
“We will be there on the ground, and will continue to be there on the ground to support peace, stability in the Solomon Islands.”
Speaking earlier today, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said Australia needs to “up our presence in the Pacific”.
“We need to recognise that it is in Australia’s national interest to have a strong presence in the region,” he said.
“We punch above our weight in the region, we play an important leadership role in areas including in the Solomons.”