13/01/2017 4:13 PM AEDT | Updated 13/01/2017 9:59 PM AEDT

Paul Keating Says U.S. Secretary Of State-Designate Rex Tillerson 'Threatens War' With China

Some of Tillerson's comments were 'ludicrous', Australia's former PM said.

Claro Cortes / Reuters
Paul Keating, former Prime Minister of Australia, is not impressed with Rex Tillerson's comments on China.

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating has taken aim at U.S. Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson, accusing him of threatening to involve Australia in a war with China and making "ludicrous" comments about the tense South China Sea dispute.

Keating wants Canberra to tell the U.S. it won't take part of "adventurism" in the South China Sea, after Tillerson told the congress a signal should be sent to China that its access to disputed islands in the region "is not going to be allowed".

"We should tell the new U.S. Administration from the get-go that Australia will not be part of adventurism, just as we should have done on Iraq 15 years ago," he said in a statement.

"That means no naval commitment to join operations in the South China Sea and no enhanced U.S. military facilitation of such operations."

He said Tillerson's claim that China's control of access to the South China Sea would be a "threat to the entire global economy" was "simply ludicrous."

"No Country would be more badly affected that China if it moved to impede navigation," he said.

On the other hand Australia's prosperity and the security of the world would be devastated by war."