In an opinion piece published in The Australian on Tuesday, Aug. 4, Professor Emeritus and former Australian deputy secretary of Defense Paul Dibb said that in the event of a Chinese military attack on the island of Taiwan, Australia must honor the ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand, United States) Treaty and send military aid to the United States, the only country that would defend Taiwan’s sovereignty.
The constant Chinese threat
In spite of having extremely urgent domestic issues such as the pandemic, the floods in the center and north of the country with the imminent breaking of the Three Gorges Dam, and pressure from the international society for the genocide against the Uighurs in Xinjiang province, among others, the communist leader Xi is increasingly aggressive in the region and none of this has stopped his agenda in search of power.
Beijing has increased its military presence in the South China Sea during the crisis brought by the CCP virus, claiming sovereignty over all waters, and even sunk two Vietnamese fishing boats, according to Reuters.
In June 2020, the Chinese military killed and maimed 20 Indian soldiers on the disputed Himalayan border, the BBC reported.
According to the professor, “Xi Jinping has stated that China does not rule out the threat of military action to reclaim Taiwan: ‘We make no promise to give up the use of military force and reserve the option of taking all necessary means’” to reunify China.
In response to growing hostility from the Chinese regime, the Trump Administration has also been firm in its stance on Beijing’s advance, taking concrete actions ranging from sanctions against government officials guilty of violating human rights in China to closing the Chinese consulate in Houston for espionage.
All of this is seen by experts as an escalation that could end in armed conflict.
“This brings me to the implications for Australia of a war over Taiwan. My view is quite simple: in the event of an unprovoked Chinese attack, if the United States does not come to the defense of Taiwan then that will mark the end of the U.S. alliance system in the Asia-Pacific region. Japan and South Korea would be likely to reconsider the option of acquiring their own nuclear weapons. If the United States does defend Taiwan and Australia refuses to make a military contribution that may well threaten the raison d’etre for ANZUS,” said Professor Dibb.
For Australia, in our contemporary geopolitical situation, Taiwan certainly comes within the ANZUS Treaty definition of an armed attack in the Pacific area. Australia is the only country within the Five Eyes alliance on which the United States can rely, says the former defense official. Not getting involved would be seen as a betrayal by Washington and would mean the end of such an important alliance.
The opinion piece ends with an anecdote from the professor: “As Rich Armitage, the deputy secretary of state in George W. Bush’s administration once said in my presence: “If American Marines are dying across the Taiwan Strait, we sure as hell expect you Aussies to bleed alongside us.”