Radio interview, Ali Clarke and Eddie Bannon, MIX 102.3

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: US-China balloon incident; Australia-China relations.

ALI CLARKE, HOST: This big balloon that was travelling over the US, and we're hearing Mazzie talking about it as a lead in our news. This giant white balloon that was supposedly, allegedly a spy balloon from China that the Americans have shot down. Well, how seriously should we take it? I mean, more seriously than our world exclusive of what happened in those moments.

EDDIE BANNON, HOST: Good clean fun that is.

CLARKE: Good clean fun. On that note, let's actually go to somebody who needs to take this incredibly seriously Senator, the Honourable Penny Wong, who's the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Hello, Senator Wong.

PENNY WONG, FOREIGN MINISTER: G'day Ali. Well, that was quite an intro.

BANNON: Was that the actual audio, Penny, is that what you heard?

FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, I don't know. I don't think I had the tape on.

CLARKE: Look, I mean, that's alleged spy balloon over the States. Apparently, there was one over Colombia. Are we seriously worried that we're going to look up in our Aussie skies soon and see one floating over us at all?

FOREIGN MINISTER: Look, I'm not going to speculate on that. I think that we've got a situation where we've seen this balloon brought down. Obviously, the US has had concerns which we share about the violation of their sovereignty and international law. I think it's good they brought it down in a very responsible way, over their territorial waters, they brought it down safely. But I think the key thing now is to try and encourage the two big powers, the two great powers, to keep talking to each other, because you don't want these sorts of things to escalate.

CLARKE: Well, that’s the headlines out of this. Somebody is saying that China is going to be at war with the US by 2025. And when you say the US, that's also US as in us, almost. Is that really where we're going, and how do you possibly calm down the two biggest boys in the sand pit?

FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, we've got to, we should be working to avert war, to deter war always. We know why. So the first part of that is obviously making sure that we can deter, but a really critical part is to continue engaging. You got to keep talking. And I thought it was a good thing that the Secretary of State made clear that he was open to continued engagement with China. And we'd encourage the Chinese to respond because ultimately, we want the two great powers to make sure there are guardrails around their competition so it doesn't escalate into conflict, because that would be pretty bad for us and for the world.

CLARKE: Senator Wong, do we have big white spy balloons or if you tell us that would you have to kill us all, is that how that works?

FOREIGN MINISTER: [laughing] I don't know, how would I do that down the line, Ali?

BANNON: [laughing] You've got people.

FOREIGN MINISTER: Not those sort of people. I'm not aware of such an incident, we would obviously respond to in a way that safeguarded our sovereignty. And I don't want to be drawn on hypotheticals, but I think the key thing here is what I want to say publicly, is that we really want the US and China to engage, because nobody wants this to escalate.

BANNON: Do they talk? Like, when they get and they have those conversations, are they friendly at all or is it always frosty? Because all we see in the media, obviously, is all very frosty.

CLARKE: Frosty and shaking hands if they talk at all.

FOREIGN MINISTER: Yeah, well, it was disappointing that because of this, that the US Secretary of State's visit to Beijing was deferred. And what we would encourage is China to respond positively to the US indicating that we're willing to continue to diplomatically engage, which means to talk. We want them to talk, even when you don't agree with someone. Particularly two great powers. But all countries, you have to keep talking. That's why we say, in terms of our relationship with China, cooperate where we can, disagree where we must, and continue engaging, because that is the best way to try and manage the relationship.

CLARKE: See, right about now, Senator Wong, I would love to be a fly on the wall. When you're at home with your wonderful partner and the kids and a fight breaks out, how do you go? Are you the one that sort of -

BANNON: Cooperate where I can.

CLARKE: And keep everyone talking.

FOREIGN MINISTER: [laughing] Keep engaging, there you go. Stop hitting each other, keeping engaging.

BANNON: Balloons in the Wong household.

CLARKE: Thank you very much, Senator Penny Wong.

FOREIGN MINISTER: Good to speak with you both, cheers.


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