Defense officials and politicians in Australia are adopting a more hostile stance against China. A former top general warned his troops last year of the “high possibility” of war with China, according to new information released this week.
This comes just days after Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton raised eyebrows when he said Chinese intimidation of Taiwan could lead to regional conflict. Canberra’s more muscular stance, combined with a rise in defense spending despite the pandemic, signals an unusually confrontational attitude toward China for a nation that had previously attempted to balance its economic ties with its largest trading partner against years old defense commitments to the United States.
Washington is repaying Canberra’s efforts by stepping up diplomatic and military cooperation with its Australian counterparts in order to coordinate any response to Chinese aggression against Taiwan. In the last year, Beijing’s political and quasi-military hostility has increased dramatically. Chinese pressure — and retaliation — has appeared all over the world. China has enraged one of the few countries that have so far coddled Beijing by mooring swarms of vessels around Whitsun Reef, a maritime feature in the Spratly Islands within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. Australia has become a model for defying Beijing’s global expansion and economic and political hegemony. China has been hammering Australia’s export-driven economy with a slew of punitive tariffs since last year, all while beefing up its military presence in the contested South China Sea.
Text by: Ankita Dutta, IBTN9