Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton has said a conflict involving China over Taiwan cannot be ruled out, but insists the government’s focus remains on having “good relations” with Beijing.
Dutton was asked on Sunday about the prospect of a “battle for Taiwan” following comments from former Defense Minister Christopher Pyne and former Prime Minister, Tony abbott, on China’s expansionary plans in the region.
“I do not believe it [conflict] it should be discounted, ”Dutton told ABC Insiders.
“China has been very clear about reunification and that has been one of its goals for a long time. They have been very clear about that objective.
“People have to be realistic about the activity. There is militarization of bases throughout the region. Obviously, there is a significant amount of activity and there is animosity between Taiwan and China. “
Dutton said Australia wanted to remain “a good neighbor in the region” working with its partners and allies. “Nobody wants to see a conflict between China and Taiwan or anywhere else,” he said.
The minister stressed that Australia was focused on continuing “good relations” with China.
“We have good relations with several countries, including China, a very important trading partner. We have an amazing diaspora community here in Australia, people who have contributed to our country for generations who are incredibly important Australians. But we have a difference of opinion with the ideals of the Communist Party of China. Let’s be very frank about it. “
Dutton said Australia was prepared for any conflict and while it planned to remain in “peacetime”, the ADF was ready to face potential threats.
“There is a high level of preparedness, as there should be, as there always will be, for our Australian defense force to face the threats that we see in our region to our country, against our allies,” he said.
The outbreak of a war over Taiwan would be “disastrous” for the region, the Australian defense force chief warned in early April.
General Angus Campbell at the time indicated that Australia would continue to push for peaceful dialogue and urged countries to “work to avoid” conflict over the future of Taiwan.
The newly appointed defense minister, who was promoted to the portfolio in a shakeup last month, also again defended his decision to return the medals seized from the 3,000 SAS soldiers who served in Afghanistan in the wake of Brereton’s damning investigation.
Dutton said the “vast majority” of ADF personnel had done the right thing and did not believe that the actions of a few should diminish their service, even though the allegations were “very conflicting.”
“I believed it was in the best interest of our advocacy staff and the organization, and I also strongly believe that for the 3,000 who were recognized during this process, the vast majority of them have done the right thing,” Dutton said. .
“They have acted with distinction, they have served our country with pride, we are incredibly proud of that service.”
Australia has announced that it will bring home its remaining troops from Afghanistan in September following a similar announcement from the United States.
Dutton said Sunday that he thought it was “highly unlikely” that Australian forces would be redeployed anytime soon, even if the Taliban were re-emerging.
“The fact is that there has been a withdrawal now … and we have no plans to return,” he said. “I don’t see how that is possible in the foreseeable future. I think there would be a different way to deal with those threats than the troops on the ground. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism