Tony Abbott has touched down in Taiwan to make a speech at an international forum as tensions between the self-ruled island and China soar.
The former Australian prime minister will on Friday address the Yushan Forum which is organized by the Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation think tank.
Mr Abbott’s arrival in the tiny nation comes after China flew almost 150 warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense zone last week.
Australia has raised concerns with the increased air incursions and urged a peaceful resolution of differences.
China claims democratically ruled Taiwan as its own territory which it has vowed to bring under its control by force if necessary.
Earlier in the week, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said relations with Australia were strong.
“We would like to engage in security or intelligence exchanges with other like-minded partners, Australia included, so Taiwan is better prepared to deal with the war situation,” he told the ABC.
Mr Abbott, who has made the trip in a private capacity, is due to meet with Mr Wu and other government figures during the visit.
He expressed support last week for Taiwan to join a regional trade pact called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and downplayed fears Australia supporting Taiwan’s bid for entry would further anger China.
“Given that China is not a member of the TPP, is unlikely to become a member of the TPP, and is already in a state of high dudgeon against Australia and many other countries, I don’t see that China is going to be any more upset than it already is,” he said.
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