Australia now faces “the likelihood of high-intensity conflict in our own immediate strategic environment,” warned a top defense expert in the wake of what has been described as a “significant escalation” by China against Taiwan.
In conversation with the ABC 7.30 program, Australian National University professor emeritus of strategic studies Paul Dibb said that “in four years [the government] expected to be confident in 10 years or more [of] Warning time of a major threat…[to] realization that the warning time was over and ended”.
“We now face the likelihood of high-intensity conflict in our own immediate strategic environment,” added Professor Dibb, a former director of the Defense Intelligence Organization and former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Intelligence.
“Let’s be perfectly honest, it is [a] Codename for a certain country in our far north.”
Within the last 72 hours, Beijing fired a rocket – for the first time ever – directly over the democratic island nation of 24 million people, part of a show of force after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan – a move Chinese authorities see as a provocation.
But they weren’t the only shots fired – as China’s aggression turned against the US and its allies, including Australia.
China’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hua Chunying threw Australia into chaos with a few short sentences that would have caught Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s eye.
After Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Beijing’s actions were “deeply concerning” and “disproportionate and destabilizing”, Ms Hua accused the “US and its stooges” of bringing the world closer to war.
“Our countermeasures are necessary as a warning to the provocateurs and as a step to safeguard our sovereignty and security,” she said.
“Now the US and its cronies have spoken out, accusing China of ‘overreacting’.
“But if they really care about peace and stability in the region, why didn’t they get up early and try to talk Pelosi out of it? Couldn’t they have seen this coming and prevented it?
“I hope that the US and its handful of ‘buddies’ realize that if they respect the principle of democracy, they should hear and respect the voice of the more than 1.4 billion Chinese.”
Amid the escalating tensions, Prof. Dibb said 7.30 The question now is how committed Australia is to defending Taiwan.
“I’ve been there four times in the last eight years – it’s a vibrant democracy with 24 million people on one island – that should ring a bell – 24 million on a small island half the size of Tasmania,” he said.
“If we were to refuse to join the United States, frankly, that would mean the end of the ANZUS alliance.
“China is an aggressive, autocratic, communist power. Corresponding [Chinese President] Xi Jinping, it is now time, alongside the People’s Republic of China, to avenge the century of humiliation in the 19th century and to replace the leadership of our region from the United States.
Author Greg Sheridan echoed the sentiment in a Saturday article for The Australianand declared that China this week brought the world “a few steps closer to war” – a war he described as “unimaginable consequences between the world’s two superpowers”.
“We’re probably a long way from war, but war is closer, more possible, more imaginable,” Sheridan wrote.
“Chinese naval warships and fighter jets have been conducting live fire military drills at six or seven locations forming a circle around the island of Taiwan.”
Asked what might act as a deterrent against China, Prof Dibb said Australia needs more missiles and more Americans, but fewer troop carriers for the army.
“We need to be able to acquire large numbers of long-range missiles very quickly,” he said.
“By long range I don’t mean just a few hundred kilometers, I mean thousands of kilometers, certainly at least 2000.”
Long-range missiles, he explained, could “quickly give us much more advanced capabilities” to repel any advance from the north.
Originally released as Australia faces a real risk of a “high-intensity conflict” with China, an expert warns