Australia will likely be dragged into a war with China over Taiwan


A military conflict is ‘likely’ to erupt over the disputed island of Taiwan in the next five to 10 years as China’s military becomes increasingly confident it can fend off a response from western powers like Australia and the US, a panel of Asian foreign policy experts has warned.

President Xi Jinping and other Communist party loyalists have already voiced their ambitions of annexing the democratic US and Japan-backed island, stating there is ‘no room for any form of Taiwan independence’.

But a Stanford Professor says such an aggressive play from the belligerent state would ‘100 per cent’ see the US get involved, prompting Australian armed forces to also heed the call of war.

A military conflict is 'likely' to erupt over the disputed island of Taiwan in the next five to 10 years, experts fear. Pictured: Australian Army soldiers conduct urban close combat clearances during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021 at Townsville Field Training Area, Queensland

A military conflict is ‘likely’ to erupt over the disputed island of Taiwan in the next five to 10 years, experts fear. Pictured: Australian Army soldiers conduct urban close combat clearances during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021 at Townsville Field Training Area, Queensland

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (pictured) has remained staunch in the face of Chinese aggression - with many nations now at loggerheads with the communist superpower

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen (pictured) has remained staunch in the face of Chinese aggression – with many nations now at loggerheads with the communist superpower 

Is Taiwan a country or a part of China?

Taiwanese soldiers hoist the flag of Taiwan in Taipei on May 10. China considers Taiwan as a part of its territory, but many Taiwanese people want the island to be independent

Taiwanese soldiers hoist the flag of Taiwan in Taipei on May 10. China considers Taiwan as a part of its territory, but many Taiwanese people want the island to be independent

China and Taiwan have a long-standing dispute over the island’s sovereignty. 

China considers Taiwan as a part of its territory, more precisely a province, but many Taiwanese want the island to be independent.

From 1683 to 1895, Taiwan was ruled by China’s Qing dynasty. After Japan claimed its victory in the First Sino-Japanese War, the Qing government forced to cede Taiwan to Japan.

The island was under the Republic of China’s ruling after World War II, with the consent of its allies the US and UK.

The leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party, Chiang Kai-shek, fled to Taiwan in 1949 and established his government after losing the Civil War to the Communist Party and its leader Mao Zedong.

Chiang’s son continued to rule Taiwan after his father and began democratising Taiwan.

In 1980, China put forward a formula called ‘one country, two systems’, under which Taiwan would be given significant autonomy if it accepted Chinese reunification. Taiwan rejected the offer.

Taiwan today, with its own constitution and democratically-elected leaders, is widely accepted in the West as an independent state. But its political status remains unclear.

‘There is a lot of discussion about what Chinese use of force would look like,’ Dr Oriana Skylar Mastro of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University in the US told a panel of Australian experts from La Trobe University.

‘A lot of people have argued that the Chinese prefer grey zone, coercion, political warfare, all that type of stuff. And I completely agree – except with Taiwan’ said Dr Mastro. 

‘You’re not going to get full political control of Taiwan through those methods.

‘The people of Taiwan are not going to voluntarily unify with the Chinese mainland without Chinese boots on the ground on the island.’

That’s why Dr Mastro believes a ‘full-scale amphibious landing’ is imminent in the next six years.

‘Some people in Australia have questioned what the US would do – the US is 100 per cent going to fight this war,’ she said.

‘But the big issue is the balance of power has shifted and the reason they might go for this landing is because they think they could win… even if the US intervenes.’

Shocking disparities between Australia and China's military power shows we would struggle in a war, amid fears that tensions both nations are nearing tipping point

Shocking disparities between Australia and China’s military power shows we would struggle in a war, amid fears that tensions both nations are nearing tipping point

President Xi Jinping and other Communist party loyalists have already voiced their ambitions of annexing the democratic US and Japan-backed island. Pictured: People's Liberation Army tanks are seen in Beijing's Tiananmen Square during a National Day parade celebrating the 50th anniversary of the People's Republic of China

President Xi Jinping and other Communist party loyalists have already voiced their ambitions of annexing the democratic US and Japan-backed island. Pictured: People’s Liberation Army tanks are seen in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square during a National Day parade celebrating the 50th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China

Pictured: The USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115) is seen firing the 5-inch gun for Naval Surface Fire Support during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021 in Queensland

Pictured: The USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115) is seen firing the 5-inch gun for Naval Surface Fire Support during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021 in Queensland

Dr Mastro explained that while the US military is ‘far superior’ it is possible that the People’s Liberation Army could move across the 130km strait before the US has time to respond.

Dr Nick Bisley, the dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at La Trobe University in Australia said the argument that a conflict could break out in five to 10 years is ‘alarmingly compelling’. 

‘Xi Jinping has made a very public and very clear signal that says Taiwan is not a problem that will be passed down to the next generation,’ Professor Bisley said.

‘Now, of course, he doesn’t have term limits. He’ll be there for a long while. We don’t know what the exact time frame is. But there does seem to be one.

‘So we’re not on the precipice of great-power conflict in the way that we were in 1914. But we’re a lot closer to that than we were.’ 

Fellow China watcher Guy Boekenstein, who is a Fellow at the Northern Australia Asia Society, said such a conflict may not be a full-scale traditional war, but tension could quickly boil over with a ‘strategic miscalculation’ that would almost certainly see Australia get dragged into the conflict to support the US.

Dr Nick Bisley, the dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at La Trobe University in Australia said the argument that a conflict could break out in five to 10 years is 'alarmingly compelling'. Pictured: Soldiers perform military exercises at the Academy of Armored Forces Engineering of the PLA on July 22, 2014 in Beijing

Dr Nick Bisley, the dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at La Trobe University in Australia said the argument that a conflict could break out in five to 10 years is ‘alarmingly compelling’. Pictured: Soldiers perform military exercises at the Academy of Armored Forces Engineering of the PLA on July 22, 2014 in Beijing

China experts believe Xi Jinping (pictured) will eventually moves to annex Taiwan

Such a push would likely see Scott Morrison (pictured) back the US and respond with military action

China experts believe that if Xi Jinping (left) moves to annex Taiwan, Scott Morrison (right) will back the US and respond with military action 

Pictured: Chinese soldiers from the People's Liberation Army (PLA) 196th Infantry Brigade hold up targets used for shooting practice during a performance to demonstrate their military skills at their barracks on July 30, 2007 in Yangcun, 100 km east of Beijing, China

Pictured: Chinese soldiers from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) 196th Infantry Brigade hold up targets used for shooting practice during a performance to demonstrate their military skills at their barracks on July 30, 2007 in Yangcun, 100 km east of Beijing, China

The rest of the region is already on edge as China attempts to assert its totalitarian power by ramping up tensions with its neighbours.

It the past few years Beijing has eroding political independence in nearby Hong Kong, carried out a bloody border scuffle against India and continued to terrorise its oppressed Muslim population in Xinjiang by detaining up to a million Uighurs in ‘re-education camps’.

China also continues to encroach on Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Brunei in the South China Sea as it builds up military islands in contravention of international law.

‘If we look realistically at the Australian Defence Force and our ability to project power or defend Australia independently, you know, we shouldn’t be kidding ourselves,’ Mr Boekenstein said.

‘We’ve got a very small but very capable military. But alliances and partnerships will always fundamentally underpin our defence and security.’

Pictured: A Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules aircraft takes off from the airstrip at Lake Cargelligo in central west NSW

Pictured: A Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules aircraft takes off from the airstrip at Lake Cargelligo in central west NSW

Taiwan, backed by the US and Japan, has endured a longstanding conflict with Beijing since a separate government was established on the island following the Chinese Civil War in 1949.

Taiwan’s residents are more on edge than ever after watching the brutal repression of the independence movement in nearby Hong Kong.

Taiwan has democratically-elected leaders and fiercely opposes reunification and the totalitarian rule of Beijing.

But Communist Party rhetoric is growing more aggressive when it comes to annexing the island. 

The island nation remains an important ally of western democratic countries for its close proximity to China and because it produces a significant supply of semiconductor microchips at a time when there is a major global shortage.

Pictured: Royal Australian Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, conduct reconnaissance during Exercise Talisman Sabre 19 at Stanage Bay, Queensland

Pictured: Royal Australian Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, conduct reconnaissance during Exercise Talisman Sabre 19 at Stanage Bay, Queensland

Pressure is mounting on Australia and fellow ‘Quad’ members – Japan, India and the US – to keep Beijing’s forces at bay as tensions escalate.

Meanwhile Australia’s relationship with its biggest trading partner began to drastically deteriorate in April last year when Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an independent inquiry into the origins of coronavirus, which first appeared in Wuhan at the end of 2019.

The plea for transparency over Covid-19 infuriated the Communist Party who retaliated by imposing arbitrary bans and tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Australian goods including barley, wine, cotton, seafood, beef, copper, and coal.



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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer in the field of information technology, cyber security, and blockchain

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