Australia recoils over Chinese ambassador’s ‘concerning’ language about Taiwan | Australian foreign policy

“Nobody should be surprised” if there is a military conflict between China and Taiwan, Liberal leader and former defense minister Peter Dutton says.

In the wake of a shocking speech from the Chinese ambassador to Australia, in which Xiao Qian said China would stop at nothing to take back Taiwan, Dutton said the Chinese Communist party had been “very clear” about their intentions.

China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province that must be reunited with the mainland, using force if necessary.

In an address to the National Press Club, Xiao said there would be “no compromise” on its one China policy. China, which is continuing its threatening military behavior in the region after US house speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, wanted a “peaceful reunification”, he said.

“But we cannot, we can never rule out the option to use other means, so when necessary, when compelled, we are ready to use all necessary means,” he said.

“As to what does it mean, ‘all necessary means’? You can use your imagination, but … we will never allow Taiwan to be separated from China.”

Australia’s federal government has been consistently urging de-escalation, restraint and calm. That position was echoed by the treasurer, Jim Chalmers, on Thursday morning on ABC radio.

Chalmers called the ambassador’s language “concerning”.

“That’s because our national interests in Australia are best served by peace, stability and prosperity in the region. And that means no unilateral change to the status quo,” he said.

“It means restraint and de-escalation. It means calm and consistent language.”

Dutton told Radio National he supported that position. “But at the same time we have to be very frank about the threat that is there,” he said.

“There’s no imagination required here. The CCP has been very clear about their intent in relation to Taiwan.”

He likened China’s belligerence to Russia’s before it invaded Ukraine, in the sense that many people didn’t believe the conflict would actually happen. And he described her Xiao’s address as “surreal”.

“You’ve just gotta cut through the propaganda and look at the real message, and the messages are very concerning,” he said.

“Nobody should be surprised if there is an incursion or if there is a conflict because they said they’d be taking back Taiwan, come hell or high water.”

Bolstering the nation’s defense forces, supporting Australia’s allies, and speaking openly and frankly about the situation would deliver the best chance of allowing China a “graceful dismount”, Dutton said. He also said he misspoke on the weekend when he called Taiwan “independent”.

Earlier, former prime minister Kevin Rudd also spoke to the ABC. He said he was “deeply concerned” about possible military conflict in the coming years, after China’s president, Xi Jinping, seat a 2049 deadline for the reunification with Taiwan.

“We’re on a 27-year slide into difficult strategic circumstances,” Rudd said.

Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd said the US should supply more weapons to Taiwan.
Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd said the US should supply more weapons to Taiwan. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

At the National Press Club on Wednesday, Xiao was asked whether China would “re-educate” the Taiwanese after reunification. Re-education is a euphemism China uses for the detention of the ethnic minority Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region.

“There might be process for the people in Taiwan to have a correct understanding of China,” Xiao said.

Rudd said he thought it was “inevitable” that if China “forcefully” retook Taiwan, it would use “the same suppression tactics used in the mainland in 1949 and more recently in Hong Kong”.

In both those cases, the “suppression tactics” were violent and deadly.

The United States should supply more weapons to Taiwan so it could mount a “porcupine defense”, Rudd said.

He was also asked about Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan, which triggered China’s aggression. He said: “Did she have her right? Yes. Was it wise? At the.”

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