Foreign policy blunder: Scott Morrison incorrectly cites 'one country, two systems' policy for Taiwan

Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison has incorrectly characterised his country's position on Taiwan during a radio interview.

When speaking about Taiwan on Thursday, Morrison referred to "one country, two systems" which is a principle applied to Hong Kong when it was transferred to China in 1997. But it's not Australia's policy on Taiwan, which it considers part of China. 

During the interview with Melbourne radio station 3AW, the Prime Minister was asked whether Australia stood with Taiwan after its foreign minister called for help to defend itself against Xi Jinping "expansion". 

Morrison said Australia has always "honoured" its arrangements in the Indo-Pacific, particularly its alliance with the United States. 

"We're very cognisant of the uncertainties in our region, and I'm not one to speak at length on these things, because I don't wish to add to any uncertainty. But that's why we have the security arrangements we have in place.

"We have always understood the 'one system, two countries' arrangement, and we will continue to follow our policies there ... 'one country, two systems', I should say."

Morrison went on to say, "we have always stood for freedom in our part of the world". 

It appears Morrison meant to refer to Australia's "one China policy" which does not recognise Taiwan as a country but does pursue trade, cultural and educational ties with the island. A similar stance is shared by New Zealand. 

Morrison's comments came amid escalating tensions between Australia and China. On Thursday China "indefinitely" suspended a form of economic dialogue with Australia. It comes after a year of trade sanctions between the nations. 

New Zealand's relationship with China is also strained after MPs on Wednesday afternoon unanimously agreed to a motion expressing grave concern about the abuses reported to be underway in China against the Uighur minority. 

The stance angered the Chinese Embassy in Wellington who accused Parliament of interfering in China's affairs.