TAIPEI: China's embassy in Australia said on Saturday (Oct 9) that former prime minister Tony Abbott was a "pitiful" politician after he denounced Chinese pressure against Taiwan during a visit to the island.
Abbott visited Taiwan, which is claimed by China, in a personal capacity this week.
He met President Tsai Ing-wen and condemned China for its aggressive actions, aimed not only at his country but also Taiwan.
"Its relative power might have peaked with its population ageing, its economy slowing and its finances creaking. It is quite possible that Beijing could lash out disastrously quite soon," he said at a security forum.
The Chinese embassy in Canberra responded with disdain.
"Tony Abbott is a failed and pitiful politician. His recent despicable and insane performance in Taiwan fully exposed his hideous anti-China features. This will only further discredit him," it said in a brief statement on its website.
Abbott also said he did not believe the United States could sit by and watch China "swallow up" Taiwan.
"I don't believe Australia should be indifferent to the fate of a fellow democracy of almost 25 million people," he added.
Abbott's visit came after China carried out four days of mass air force incursions into Taiwan's air defence identification zone beginning Oct 1.
Australia, like most countries, has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan but has joined its ally the United States in expressing concern at Chinese pressure, especially military.
Taiwan says it is an independent country and will defend itself if China attacks.