Scott Morrison defends 'inclusive world order' G7 agenda

Prime MInister Scott Morrison. Picture: Elesa Kurtz
Prime MInister Scott Morrison. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has defended this week's G7 summit in Cornwall as a benefit for all countries as a Chinese official slams the participants for stoking differences.

It comes after Australia and Singapore have agreed to work on the conditions for quarantine-free travel during a brief leaders' meeting as Mr Morrison made pitstop on the way to the G7 summit.

Arriving in the UK on Friday, Mr Morrison told reporters the G7 discussions were about ensuring an "inclusive world order" in which countries can trade with each other without coercion.

"The G7 Plus isn't about a club," Mr Morrison said. "It's about ensuring a world that favours freedom."

United States President Joe Biden will press the summit to increase pressure on China over use of forced labour of the Muslim Uighur minority in Xinjiang province, the White House announced.

Chinese foreign affairs spokesperson Wang Wenbin hit out at Australia this week for raising the Uighur concerns alongside Japan.

The G7 Plus should be doing more to help developing countries, Mr Wang said, "instead of stoking differences and disputes in the international community and disrupting global recovery and solidarity against the coronavirus."

On the way to the G7 summit Scott Morrison met with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to discuss the travel bubble.

The pair discussed the ground rules for the travel arrangements but Mr Morrison warned it was still some months away.

"There is still some time before we reach that milestone," he said in Singapore.

"But there is nothing impeding us getting on with the job of putting systems in place that will enable such a bubble to emerge between Singapore and Australia."

Cabinet minister Peter Dutton hoped the travel bubble would be established as soon as possible. "It's not going to happen tomorrow, but let's work toward it as quickly as we can," he told the Nine Network.

"Singapore is a great partner to work with, they are very reliable, they have a great health system and are a great tourism destination, as has Australia for those tourists that want to get out of Singapore and come to a great country like Australia."

Once the two-way travel ties are established, priority will be given to students from Singapore to return to Australia to complete their studies.

"That's a big industry for Australia," Mr Dutton said.

"International student numbers have dried up so to see that start again will be important and there are many Australian jobs that hang off that industry."

The Singaporean prime minister indicated the travel bubble would not be approved until the majority of populations in both countries had been vaccinated.

Australia lags behind Singapore in the vaccination process, having administered about 5.4 million vaccines.

Just under half the 4.7 million-strong adult population in Singapore has been fully vaccinated with both doses.

Over the past week Singapore has recorded an average of just four local COVID-19 cases a day, with its vaccine rollout well under way, restrictions easing and rapid test kits about to go on sale.

Mr Morrison said systems would be put in place to enable the two countries to open up in a similar way to the Australia-New Zealand bubble "when we are both in a position to do so".

Mr Lee said at the joint media conference the world was now moving into the "next phase of the fight" in relation to the pandemic.

He said the travel bubble would start with mutual recognition of vaccine certificates, saying: "When ready then we can start small with an air travel bubble to build confidence on both sides."

The two leaders signed a memorandum of understanding on health care and health technology and agreed to start talks on financial technology deal.

A green economy agreement will also be negotiated, alongside greater collaboration on hydrogen and other low-emissions fuels.

Mr Morrison and Mr Lee also discussed regional security, which will also be the focus of talks in Cornwall, London and Paris.

with AAP

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This story On the outside, China feels G7 pressure first appeared on The Canberra Times.