Former defence minister Chris Pyne (pictured) has issued a stark warning of an impending war between Australia and China
Australia could be thrown into a military conflict with China in a matter of years, a former defence chief has warned.
War may be inevitable with the authoritarian state as it becomes more aggressive and belligerent with its neighbours, Christopher Pyne said.
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.
Now the former defence minister has predicted that a ‘loss of life’ and ‘military destruction’ could soon be a reality in the Indo-Pacific.
Australia might get thrust into a hot war with China in the next five to 10 years as the authoritarian Asian state becomes more aggressive and belligerent with its neighbours, Chris Pyne said
An Australian Army soldier Sapper from the 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment, guides an M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank across the Dry Support Bridge during Exercise Diamond Catalyst in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland
But while the fallout over trade has been severe, the Liberal Party stalwart, who served under Malcolm Turnbull, said things may well get a whole lot worse as Beijing looks to poke and prod its Asia Pacific neighbours.
‘Five years ago, I would have said that the possibility was very unlikely – now I would have to say that the possibility is more likely than it was then,’ Mr Pyne said in a speech at the University of Adelaide, News.com.au reported.
‘Not a cyber war, but a real one involving loss of life, destruction of military platforms, with aggressors and defenders on different sides,’ he said.
‘This isn’t rhetoric. This is something that you and I may well have to confront in the next five to 10 years.’
China engaged in a border scuffle with India last year where dozens of soldiers were killed on both sides.
Tensions have soared in the disputed South China Sea where Beijing has claimed control of maritime areas legally belonging to Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam and Brunei.
Internally President Xi Jinping has also moved to stamp out freedoms in Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang Province with brutal campaigns against religious minorities and pro-democracy advocates.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen poses for a group photo in front of the Taiwan navy’s new boat – amid growing pressure from China in the South China Sea
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has remained staunch in the face of Chinese aggression
Hong Kong Police pass a burning barricade to break up thousands of pro-democracy protesters as the movement against China rages on
But Mr Pyne said the ‘most concerning’ flashpoint that could lead to all out military conflict is Chinese aggression in Taiwan.
The island nation backed by the US and Japan has endured a longstanding conflict with Beijing since the Chinese civil war in 1949 and now it’s residents are more on edge than ever after watching the erosion of independence in Hong Kong.
The People’s Liberation Army have repeatedly invaded Taiwan’s airspace and maritime borders as ‘Wolf Warrior diplomats’ ramp up their rhetoric about annexing the territory.
AUSTRALIA VS CHINA – MILITARY FORCE BY NUMBERS
Place on global Military Strength Ranking 2021:
China – 3rd globally
Australia – 19th globally
China – 3.3 million people
Australia – 80,000 people
China – 1,200
Australia – 75
China – 3,205
Australia – 59
China – 2,250
Australia – 0
China – 79
Australia – 6
Fit for service population:
China – 617 million people
Australia – 8.7 million people
China – $233billion
Australia – $42billion
China – 775 million people
Australia – 12.5 million people
China – 1.4 billion
Australia – 25 million
Commander of the US-Indo Pacific forces, Admiral Philip Davidson recently told a US Congress Committee it was his opinion that China would look to invade Taiwan in the next six years.
‘China’s military is very capable in an asymmetric war against the US and its allies around the island chains of the western Indo-Pacific and Southeast Asia,’ Mr Pyne said.
‘Australia is one of those allies. For that reason and many others, avoiding any kind of war is our paramount defence and foreign policy priority as a nation.’
He called on leaders to try and engage with China and said it was in no one’s interest to adopt a policy of containment of China.
A Chinese naval ship sails into Sydney Harbour in June 2019 during a secret reciprocal visit
Australian Army soldiers from the 4th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery gather for an inspection in August 2020. Mr Pyne has now warned of a war with China
How China’s feud with Australia has escalated
2019: Australian intelligence services conclude that China was responsible for a cyber-attack on Australia’s parliament and three largest political parties in the run-up to a May election.
April 2020: Australian PM Scott Morrison begins canvassing his fellow world leaders for an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. Britain and France are initially reluctant but more than 100 countries eventually back an investigation.
April 15: Morrison is one of the few leaders to voice sympathy with Donald Trump’s criticisms of the World Health Organization, which the US president accuses of bias towards China.
April 21: China’s embassy accuses Australian foreign minister Peter Dutton of ‘ignorance and bigotry’ and ‘parroting what those Americans have asserted’ after he called for China to be more transparent about the outbreak.
April 23: Australia’s agriculture minister David Littleproud calls for G20 nations to campaign against the ‘wet markets’ which are common in China and linked to the earliest coronavirus cases.
April 26: Chinese ambassador Cheng Jingye hints at a boycott of Australian wine and beef and says tourists and students might avoid Australia ‘while it’s not so friendly to China’. Canberra dismisses the threat and warns Beijing against ‘economic coercion’.
May 11: China suspends beef imports from four of Australia’s largest meat processors. These account for more than a third of Australia’s $1.1billion beef exports to China.
May 18: The World Health Organization backs a partial investigation into the pandemic, but China says it is a ‘joke’ for Australia to claim credit. The same day, China imposes an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley. Australia says it may challenge this at the WTO.
May 21: China announces new rules for iron ore imports which could allow Australian imports – usually worth $41billion per year – to be singled out for extra bureaucratic checks.
June 5: Beijing warns tourists against travelling to Australia, alleging racism and violence against the Chinese in connection with Covid-19.
June 9: China’s Ministry of Education warns students to think carefully about studying in Australia, similarly citing alleged racist incidents.
June 19: Australia says it is under cyber-attack from a foreign state which government sources say is believed to be China. The attack has been targeting industry, schools, hospitals and government officials, Morrison says.
July 9: Australia suspends extradition treaty with Hong Kong and offers to extend the visas of 10,000 Hong Kongers who are already in Australia over China’s national security law which effectively bans protest.
August 18: China launches 12-month anti-dumping investigation into wines imported from Australia in a major threat to the $6billion industry.
August 26: Prime Minster Scott Morrison announces he will legislate to stop states and territories signing deals with foreign powers that go against Australia’s foreign policy. Analysts said it is aimed at China.
October 13: Trade Minister Simon Birmingham says he’s investigating reports that Chinese customs officials have informally told state-owned steelmakers and power plants to stop Aussie coal, leaving it in ships off-shore.
November 2: Agriculture Minister David Littleproud reveals China is holding up Aussie lobster imports by checking them for minerals.
November 3: Barley, sugar, red wine, logs, coal, lobster and copper imports from Australia unofficially banned under a directive from the government, according to reports.
November 18: China releases bizarre dossier of 14 grievances with Australia.
November 27: Australian coal exports to China have dropped 96 per cent in the first three weeks of November as 82 ships laden with 8.8million tonnes of coal are left floating off Chinese ports where they have been denied entry.
November 28: Beijing imposed a 212 per cent tariff on Australia’s $1.2 billion wine exports, claiming they were being ‘dumped’ or sold at below-cost. The claim is denied by both Australia and Chinese importers.
November 30: Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao posted a doctored image showing a grinning Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of an Afghan child. The move outraged Australians.
December 12: Australian coal is added to a Chinese blacklist.
January 11, 2021: Australia blocks $300million construction deal that would have seen state-owned China State Construction Engineering Corporation takeover Probuild. The bid was blacked over national security concerns.
February 5, 2021: China confirms Melbourne journalist and single mother Cheng Lei has been formally arrested after being detained in August, 2020.
February 23, 2021: China accuses Australia of being in an ‘axis of white supremacy’ with the UK, USA, Canada and NZ in an editorial.
March 11, 2021: Australia is accused of genocide by a Communist Party newspaper editor.
March 15, 2021: Trade Minister Dan Tehan announced he wants the World Trade Organisation to help mediate discussions between the two countries over the trade dispute.
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk