Photos: ANI
Photos: ANI

Australian High Commissioner to India, Barry O'Farrell had on Thursday extended support to India over the contentious Indo-China border situation.

"Australia urges restrain at LAC and supports continued moves by India for de-escalation. In my meeting with External Affairs Minister today, I told him Australia opposes any attempts to unilaterally alter status-quo which only increase tension and instability," O'Farrell told news agency ANI.

He also said that it was important that "bilaterally agreed principles and norms" continue to be observed.

Speaking about maintaining stability, O'Farrell had also voiced concern over China's actions in the South China Sea that he termed "destabilising" and said that it could "provoke escalation".

And while India may have cause to smile over the supportive statements, China is not too happy, and O'Farrell's counterpart, Chinese Ambassador to India, Sun Weidong had several things to say.

"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 UNCLOS. It's clear who safeguards peace and stability and who destablizes and provokes escalation in the region," he riposted.

O'Farrell however was quick to respond, expressing hope that China would follow the "2016 South China Sea Arbitral Award".

"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," he remarked.

This provoked yet another tweet from Weidong who informed O'Farrell that China did not accept or recognise the Award he had urged the country to abide by. Not only that, but it was "illegal, null and void and has no binding force".

"So-called arbitral tribunal of South China Sea violated principle of state consent. The award is illegal, null and void and has no binding force. China neither accepts nor recognizes it. We hope those non-claimant countries could contribute to regional peace and stability rather than contrary," he tweeted.

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