Taiwan has asked Australia for help, after China increased the presence of its fighter jets in recent days to areas it identified as Taiwan’s air defenses.
China regards Taiwan as its breakaway province, which will one day rejoin the mainland. But Taiwanese authorities consider the island a sovereign state.
Like most other countries, Australia does not officially recognize Taiwan’s self-declared independence. But there are important bilateral economic and social relations between the two countries.
Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu this week urged Australia to increase intelligence sharing and security cooperation, while China intensifies its military presence in Taiwan’s airspace.
Speaking to lawmakers about a special budget plan for purchasing air and naval defense, Taiwan’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said, “Speaking of attacking Taiwan, now China has that capability. But we have to consider the consequences. We don’t want to take action. provocative. But if we annoy them, it’s like irritating someone, then that person will do everything when disturbed. So, in our judgment, 2025 is the year China will have more (capabilities).”
A spokeswoman for Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Monday, “The resolution of disputes over Taiwan and other regional issues must be achieved peacefully through dialogue and without the threat or use of force or violence.”
The statement echoed concerns expressed by the US State Department, which said it was “deeply concerned” by Beijing’s pressure on Taiwan.
Richard McGregor is a senior research fellow for East Asia at the Lowy Institute, a Sydney-based research and policy organization. McGregor told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Australia could be embroiled in heightened tensions over Taiwan after China sent dozens of warplanes and bombers into its airspace.
“This is psychological pressure to weaken Taiwan. China doesn’t want to attack Taiwan, doesn’t want to fight for Taiwan. China wants to put enough pressure on Taiwan so that it seems like Taiwan finally gives up and agrees to the terms,” he said.
Last month, Australia and the United States announced plans to “strengthen relations with Taiwan,” describing it as “a major democracy and an important partner for both countries.” As tensions rise, such partnerships are now important, McGregor said.
China is Australia’s biggest trading partner, but relations between the two have been increasingly strained in recent years due to various geopolitical, diplomatic and trade disputes. [ps/ka]