Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Thursday that Australia will remain neutral in the South China Sea issue.
"China is a very good friend of Australia and it's a friendship which is getting stronger all the time," Abbott said when answering questions about the South China Sea issue, Chinese media reported.
He further said that Australia's position on the issue has been clear and that the country takes no sides in many territorial issues in the region.
"We deplore any unilateral alteration of the status quo. We believe that disputes should be settled peacefully in accordance with international law and we do what we can to uphold freedom of navigation on the sea and in the air."
The prime minister added, "We do what we can to uphold freedom of navigation on the sea and in the air. So that's our position, it's long been our position and it will continue to be our position."