A former Chinese diplomat has warned Australia against joining the U.S. in blocking China’s mission to reunify with Taiwan, saying it would result in an “Armageddon.”
Driving the news: In September, Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. signed a security pact called AUKUS, which would help Australia’s capital of Canberra acquire nuclear-powered submarines. The agreement comes amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and China over Beijing’s aggression in the Taiwan Strait, which recently saw a record 150 warplanes breach the self-governed island’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).
On Saturday, Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton told The Australian that it would be “inconceivable” for Australia not to join the U.S. should the latter move to defend Taiwan. “I think we should be very frank and honest about that, look at all of the facts and circumstances without pre-committing, and maybe there are circumstances where we wouldn't take up that option, (but) I can't conceive of those circumstances,” Dutton said, according to Reuters.
China’s actions in the Taiwan Strait reflect President Xi Jinping’s plans to annex the island by 2027 with military force, as necessary. In an interview with “60 Minutes Australia,” Victor Gao, who served as a translator for Paramount Leader Deng Xiaoping, said those who block unification efforts will be “doomed to fail.”
“If Australia goes to fight together with U.S. soldiers in China’s drive for reunification between China’s mainland and China’s Taiwan, then you are talking about the worst thing you could dream of,” Gao said. “A war between China and the United States will soon escalate out of control, and that will be Armageddon, Armageddon and Armageddon.”
Gao, who currently serves as vice president of the think tank Center for China and Globalization (CCG), said the deal Australia had signed with the U.S. and the U.K. effectively made it a target for China’s nuclear weapons. “This is what I hope the Australian people will come to realize, that you need to deal with China with respect, as much as you give to the United States,” he added.
The U.S. and Taiwan have no official diplomatic links; however, the U.S. enacted the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979, which maintains the “capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or social or economic system, of the people of Taiwan.”
What observers are saying: Experts have varying opinions on the imminence of war in the Taiwan Strait. Australian Sen. Jim Molan, former major general of the Australian Army, believes China could act “anytime from now on.”
“Fundamentally, given the power that they have now in their military, they could act anytime from now on,” Molan told 60 Minutes. “And that’s what frightens me more than anything.”
Molan said he believes the Chinese Communist Party aims to be dominant regionally, and perhaps even globally. “This is a zero-sum game. [China] must remove America from the western Pacific in order to be dominant in this region. Simple as that,” Molan said.
Last month, Taiwanese defense minister Chiu Kuo-cheng estimated that a “full-scale” invasion could happen in 2025. His military expects the year to mark the maturity of China’s anti-intervention and blockade capabilities around the strait, which would keep war costs to a minimum, according to CNN.
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