Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has warned that China could escalate its attacks in the South China Sea at “any stage”, suggesting an incursion could happen “tomorrow”.
Tensions in the region have escalated since US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan last week, a move China slammed as a blatant disregard for the “One China” policy.
As a result, Beijing began a series of military drills, including launching ballistic missiles and air and maritime exercises that are wreaking havoc on trade routes. They have indicated these exercises will continue indefinitely.
Mr Dutton, who was defence minister under former prime minister Scott Morrison, said the escalation in the threat to stability in the region was deeply concerning.
“People need to hear the reality of what is happening at the moment. The South China Sea could plunge into conflict at any stage,” Mr Dutton said from Brisbane.
“One of these exercises could turn into an incursion tomorrow.
“The threat to our peace and stability in our region is very real.”
Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles earlier refused to be drawn on whether he believed China would invade Taiwan.
Mr Dutton said the opposition did not want to play politics with national security, backing in the Albanese government’s position on China.
He also warned that the world needed to prevent a repeat of history, saying the current global conditions are reminiscent of the rise of the Nazis in the 1930s.
“The last couple of years we’ve spoken about our region being in a period similar to the 1930s … The carnage that we’ve seen in Ukraine we don’t want to see repeated in Taiwan,” Mr Dutton said.
“It’s appropriate to be frank and honest … If we don’t shine a light on the activities or the behaviour of someone like President Putin and President Xi, we will find ourselves in conflict.
“(By) calling out bullying and bad practice … we can have prevailing peace and we can have a normalised relationship with China.”
Mr Marles said he wanted a return to “normal, peaceful” activity around the Taiwan Strait.
“We’ve just got to see a de-escalation of tension. That’s what the world wants,” he said.
The comments come after China launched a fresh attack at the Albanese government overnight, slamming Canberra for “violating” the UN Charter and further straining bilateral relations.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong co-wrote a joint statement with her US and Japanese counterparts last week, strongly condemning China’s unprecedented military drills in the Taiwan Strait.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Senator Wong, and the government, had “disregarded facts” in criticising Beijing.
Mr Wang said China’s measures were “legitimate, justified and lawful” measures to “safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
“Australia’s act violates the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs and undermines regional peace and stability,” Mr Want said.
“In the past few years, China-Australia relations have experienced serious difficulties for reasons caused by the Australian side … China’s position on developing relations with Australia is consistent and clear.
“We urge the Australian side to develop a clear understanding of the situation, respect China’s core interests, stop saying or doing the things that undermine regional peace and stability, refrain from echoing or assisting certain countries’ misguided strategy of using the Taiwan question to contain China, and avoid creating new obstacles for China-Australia ties.”
Mr Marles said Australia wanted to maintain “the most productive relationship we can” with China but would not back down on speaking to our national interests.
“The global rules-based order, freedom of navigation in places like the South China Sea are really fundamental to Australia’s national interest,” Mr Marles told Sky News.
“We will always speak to those interests.
“We would like to see the relationship (with China) be put in a better place. While the government has changed in Australia, our national interest hasn’t, and we will continue to speak up for our national interests.
“We will do that without fear or favour.”
Mr Marles said China’s increased rhetoric was “deeply concerning” and pleaded for there not to be an escalation of tension.
“We want to see a de-escalation of tensions, and that’s what we will be calling for,” he said.
Meanwhile, Taipei has thanked Australia for its support in the wake of China’s latest round of actions.
“With each instance of China’s military coercion against Taiwan, we see the determination of the global alliance of democracies to stand up against authoritarianism and uphold democracy,” a Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement read.
China’s ambassador to Australia, Xiao Qian, will address the National Press Club later on Wednesday.
Denial of responsibility! planetcirculate is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.