Senator Penny Wong, you are wrong on China issue!

Shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong (on the left) and Australia's Defense Minister Petter Dutton (on the right).

Earlier this month, Australia’s Defense Minister Petter Dutton said it was “inconceivable” that Australia would not back the United States if there was a war over Taiwan, drawing a furious response from Chinese state media.

Xi Jinping proved that he meant what he said. In the past, Xi Jinping spoke about dismantling human rights in Hong Kong, Uyghurs and Macau. Xi Jinping has done it. The president of China escalated security tensions in Southeast Asia and Africa. Xi Jinping claimed Russia’s Vladivostok part of China and China is near arctic nation, although China is 13,297 km apart from Antarctica.  

Questions of Chinese strength and the U.S. weakness aside, even more disturbing is that a decision to invade can be made by one man—Xi Jinping—and he may make that decision mainly for political reasons.

On October 1, China celebrated its National Day by sending fighter jets, bombers, and other warplanes in menacing formations off the southern end of Taiwan. The flights continued day and night for the following four days, with one massive formation of 56 planes testing Taiwan’s air defenses on October 3, reported CNN news.

Given enough time and will—the recently formed “Quad” of Japan, Australia, India, and the U.S.—may generate the level of cooperation needed to keep the cost of invasion prohibitively high for Beijing. Having successfully irritated and threatened just about all of its neighbors, China is now starting to get some long-overdue pushback across the region.

Beijing’s armed forces already have the power to blockade Taiwan’s key harbors, airports and outbound flight routes, the island’s defense ministry said in a report released on Tuesday.

Tensions between Taiwan and mainland China have flared in recent months. The People’s Liberation Army sends warplanes to harass the island almost daily, and U.S. experts warn of a potential conflict across the Taiwan Strait.

In a speech during this mock “air assault,” Chinese President Xi Jinping described Taiwan independence as a “grave lurking threat to national rejuvenation” and insisted that, while China wanted peaceful unification, “nobody should underestimate the staunch determination, firm will and powerful ability of the Chinese people to defend national sovereignty.”

The great danger is that these alternative achievements could be military. A massive buildup, particularly in naval and missile forces, has given the Peoples’ Liberation Army a new edge in the South China Sea, the Luzon Strait, and even the broader Western Pacific. If regime survival becomes tenuous at home, XI may choose to roll the military dice—possibly even attempting to conquer Taiwan.

China, the U.S., and Taiwan are now caught in a “vicious spiral,” according to Jia Qingguo, a professor of international relations at Peking University who advises the Chinese government. “The process of vicious interactions between Taipei, Beijing, and Washington resembles the forming of a perfect storm.”

Penny Wong and her remarks

Earlier this month, Australia’s Defense Minister Petter Dutton said it was “inconceivable” that Australia would not back the United States if there was a war over Taiwan, drawing a furious response from Chinese state media.

Shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong is set to accuse Defense Minister Peter Dutton of deliberately needling China’s government and “amping up” the threat of war in a bid to improve the Coalition’s chances of winning the next election.

Earlier this month Mr Dutton said it was “inconceivable” that Australia would not back the United States if there was a war over Taiwan, drawing a furious response from Chinese state media.

She will also argue that Mr Dutton’s comments — as well as a warning from Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo about the “drums of war” beating in the region — could actually feed into the Chinese government’s narrative that war or unification with the mainland is the only two options facing Taiwan.

Penny Wang has sharpened her criticisms of how the federal government and senior officials handled the announcement of the AUKUS pact in the wake of the bitter feud between Australia and France over the cancelled submarine program.

Penny Wang may not know that on July 15 Peoples Liberation Army Navy has sent spy ships off the coast of Queensland to observe Australian Naval exercises. China has sent similar spy ships to previous iterations of the event in 2017 and 2019.

China’s economic coercion

One pressing issue that is ripe for collective action is China’s economic coercion. To date, Beijing has used the threat and imposition of trade-restrictive measures to punish over a dozen countries for pursuing policies deemed harmful to Chinese interests. The first episode occurred in 2010 when China blocked salmon imports from Norway after the Nobel Committee awarded the Peace Prize to Chinese human-rights activist Liu Xiaobo.

That same year, Chinese customs officials obstructed exports of rare earth to Japan in an effort to compel Tokyo to release the captain of a Chinese fishing trawler who was detained after his vessel collided with Japanese coast guard vessels in waters near the disputed Senkaku Islands. In 2012, after engaging in a confrontation with China at Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, the Philippines discovered that its tropical fruit exports to China were quarantined due to alleged infestation.

Punitive economic measures were subsequently taken by China against Mongolia for hosting the Dalai Lama, against South Korea for deploying a U.S. missile defense system, against Canada for its arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, against New Zealand for banning Huawei-made equipment from its 5G mobile network, against Sweden for awarding a rights prize to a Swedish dissident under detention in China, against Taiwan for refusing to acknowledge that the island is part of China, against the United Kingdom for supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong; and against the city of Prague for signing a sister city deal with Taipei.

China’s latest target is Australia, which riled Beijing by barring Huawei and ZTE from its 5G network, accusing China of interfering in Australia’s domestic politics, and, above all, calling for an independent inquiry into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. The number of Australian products exported to China that have been subjected to disruption is unprecedented—coal, barley, beef, copper, cotton, sugar, timber, wine, lobsters, sugar, wheat, wool, and beer have been affected.

In most cases, the Chinese government has denied imposing punitive measures. When the flow of Chinese tourists to South Korea slowed and South Korean consumer goods were subjected to boycotts inside China, Chinese officials strongly foreswore any government involvement and instead attributed the happenings to “strong feelings in the general public in China.” On occasion, Beijing has relied on dubious legal and regulatory grounds to justify erecting trade barriers. China alleged, for example, that Australian winemakers were receiving illegal subsidies and selling their products in China at predatory prices.

PRC tactics

Citing People’s Republic of China military literature, the official said options could begin with a “joint blockade campaign” and escalate to a full-scale amphibious invasion. Likewise, air missile strikes, cyberattacks, or a seizure of offshore islands near Taiwan are options China appears to be preparing for.

The PRC activity and the pressure they’re putting on the Indo-Pacific region only increase every day, potentially destabilizing the region. Whether Australia wants to engage in a war against China or not,– that decision is forced upon Australia by the President of China, Xi Jinping.

Australia has two options –Australia either gives in to China’s economic coercion or maintain Australia’s democracy, freedom and Australian way of life. Australia should prefer the second option event it costs Australia dearly and opt-in to go to war against China.  

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