Australia has a strong relationship with Taiwan, and backs the country’s independence from mainland China. In response, Beijing state media outlets have threatened to strike Canberra’s military bases as “punishment” for their support for Taiwan.
The Global Times, a Chinese state media outlet, has warned “Australian hawks” not to get involved with Taiwan.
Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the outlet, said: “I suggest China make a plan to impose retaliatory punishment against Australia once it militarily interferes in the cross-Straits situation.
“The plan should include long-range strikes on the military facilities and relevant key facilities on Australian soil if it really sends its troops to China’s offshore areas and combats against the PLA (People’s Liberation Army).”
The editor then added Beijing needs to send a strong message to “to deter the extreme forces of Australia” from “committing irresponsible actions”.
Peter Dutton, Australian defence minister, has not ruled out a conflict with China over Taiwanese independence, but added he hopes the governments can maintain “good relations”.
Speaking to ABC’s Insiders: “China has been very clear about the reunification and that’s been a long-held objective of theirs. They have been very clear about that goal.
“People need to be realistic about the activity. There is militarisation of bases across the region.
“Obviously, there is a significant amount of activity and there is an animosity between Taiwan and China.”
Recently, China’s National Development and Reform Commission said it would “indefinitely suspend” all activities under the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue.
It followed Beijing suspending or imposing restrictions on Australian imports, such as coal, beef and timber.
The economic planning agency said it made the decision because Canberra’s “Cold War mindset and ideological discrimination” had disrupted cooperation.
Xie Maosong, a senior research at the China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the South China Morning Post: “Unlike other countries that have conflicts with China, Australia’s motives are ideological, and they think they can separate economic cooperation from ideological confrontation.”
Professor Joe Siracusa, Curtin University professor and political analyst, also warned Sky News Australia China merely has to blockade and disrupt sea lanes into Australia to deliver a sizeable blow.
He said it would mean Australia would “die a slow and lingering death” as the two nations have fallen out over good exports and Covid probes.
Prof Siracusa added: “No one’s going to invade Australia, no one’s going to be coming through the Sydney head with combat troops.
“All [China] is going to do is just choke Australia by blocking the sea lanes and communication and Australia will die a long lingering death.
“So it’s not going to be dramatic, on the other hand, Australia has an important role to play.
“Small to medium-size powers always have this ability to be interlocutors in the quarrels between the great powers.”