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Morrison Government accused of ‘amping up war’ threat

The Federal Government has been accused of ramping up the threat of conflict over Taiwan for domestic political gain, leaving Australia “wildly out of step” with its US ally.

Earlier this month, Mr Dutton told The Australian newspaper that if the US deployed military forces to defend Taiwan, it would be “inconceivable” that Australia would not follow.

Taiwan has a modern, well-equipped armed forces but would be hard pressed to defeat a Chinese invasion without US military support, experts say. (AP)
Over decades, Australian governments have mirrored US policy by not announcing publicly whether they would come to Taiwan’s aid if the island was attacked by China, which regards the island as a breakaway province.

Senator Wong told the National Security College in Canberra the policy is the best way for “averting conflict and enabling the region to live in peace and prosperity”.

“So when Peter Dutton talks about it being ‘inconceivable’ that Australia would not ‘join’ a war over Taiwan, he is wildly out of step with the strategy long adopted by Australia and our principal ally,” Senator Wong said.

“Surely the real question is not, as he suggests, whether we declare our intentions, but why the defence minister is amping up war, rather than working to maintain longstanding policy to preserve the status quo – as advocated by the Taiwanese leader, Tsai Ing-wen.”

Chinese naval forces have been holding regular exercise close to Taiwanese waters over the past year. (China Ministry of Defence)

Senator Wong said the Taiwan issue was the worst case of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his ministers using foreign and security policies for domestic political purposes.

Taiwan and mainland China have been separately governed since the Nationalists retreated to Taiwan at the end of the Chinese civil war more than 70 years ago.

Taiwan is now a flourishing democracy but the mainland’s ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) continues to view the island as an inseparable part of its territory – despite having never controlled it.

Senator Wong also outlined Labor’s top foreign policy priorities.

They include stronger ties with Pacific countries through climate change initiatives, an improved projection of modern Australia and increased funding for the diplomatic service.

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