The Australian High Commissioner to India Barry O'Farrell and his Chinese counterpart Sun Weidong engaged in a verbal -- and virtual -- spat on July 31 over the former's South China Sea territorial dispute comment, with Farrell urging Weidong to "refrain from actions that unilaterally alter the status quo."
"Noted remarks by Australian HC to India on South China Sea disregarding facts. China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests are in conformity with international law, including United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). It's clear who safeguards peace and stability and who destabilises and provokes escalation in the region," Weidong tweeted.
Weidong was referring to the Australian High Commissioner's comments on July 30 when he said that Australia is 'deeply concerned' by actions in South China Sea "that are destabilising and could provoke escalation."
"On July 23, Australia lodged a note with the UN Secretary General refuting China’s unlawful maritime claims in the South China Sea. It rejects China’s claim to historic rights and internal waters, its assertion of certain maritime zones, and its contention there is wide international recognition of its South China Sea sovereignty claims," Farrell said.
He also responded to Weidong's tweet by saying that he hopes China follows the "2016 South China Sea Arbitral Award" which is "final and binding under international law, and also generally refrain from actions that unilaterally alter the status quo."
Thank you @China_Amb_India. I would hope then you follow the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Award which is final and binding under international law, and also generally refrain from actions that unilaterally alter the status quo. https://t.co/1w2nrcrxhr
— Barry O’Farrell AO (@AusHCIndia) July 31, 2020
Earlier on July 30, Farrell had also backed India's position on the border stand-off with China and said that Australia "opposes any attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo, which only serve to increase tension and the risk of instability."
"It is important that the bilaterally-agreed principles and norms that have helped prevent escalation or miscalculation in the border areas over many decades continue to be observed," he stated.