Allies join forces to fight China ‘disinformation’

Australia will join forces with the US to fight "state-sponsored disinformation" and malicious cyber attacks targeting COVID vaccines, after high-level defence talks that took aim at China.

Increased defence and military co-operation in the Indo-Pacific, Australia's backyard, was also promised with Beijing casting a shadow in the region.

It came out of the defence and foreign affairs ministers, Marise Payne and Linda Reynolds, meeting with US secretary of state Mike Pompeo overnight.

 

In strongly worded statement coming out of the meeting included directly calling out China over "undermining" one country, two systems in Hong Kong and "eroding" freedoms in the financial hub, as well as "mass detention, forced Labor and forced abortions" of Uyghurs in mainland China.

A new high-level working group will be set up between Australia's DFAT and the US State Department to "vigorously counter threats" from disinformation campaigns, which have largely been attributed to Russia and China.

"(The Ministers and Mr Pompeo) affirmed that state-sponsored malicious disinformation and interference in democratic processes are significant and evolving threats, with both countries recently joining a cross-regional statement pledging to combat the "infodemic" that has accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic state-sponsored malicious disinformation and interference in democratic processes are significant and evolving threats," the joint statement said.

Australia and the US also signed a new "statement of principles" to "advance force-posture co-operation" in the Indo-Pacific region, but details have been kept classified.

China warned overnight, before the talks conclusions, that "the US is doing everything possible to sabotage China-US relations".

 

"We hope the consultations you mentioned won't send any wrong signals," Beijing's foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbein said.

"We take no position on the normal exchange and co-operation between regional countries. "However, such co-operation should be conducive to regional peace, stability and mutual trust between regional countries.

"It should not target a third party or undermine its interests."

China's state-owned media have been ramping up their rhetoric against Australia as tensions rise, including suggesting agriculture and iron ore could be subject to further trade strikes.

 

Originally published as Allies join forces to fight China 'disinformation'



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