Preparing for China
China’s eyes are on a lot more of the world than just Taiwan. Their influence into foreign governments, trade deals and diplomatic pressure can be seen on a global scale. They are pursuing a geopolitical agenda of domination through every avenue of physical transportation as well as a public relations war for hearts and minds in specific countries across the world.
With growing suspicions about China’s motives, media reports have included some points indicating that China may have deliberately released the COVID virus in 2019.
China has been having success in Africa, from Mauritania, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Equatorial Guinea. The one party dictatorship has also had considerable success in Oceania, approaching island nations, with a special interest in obtaining port facilities.
Defence Minister Peter Dutton said China’s military intentions regarding Taiwan “cannot be ruled out”. This is not scaremongering but the truth many Australians are willing to accept.
China has been making the aggressive moves. On one day in April, it sent 28 warplanes into Taiwanese air space.
As one commentator said, “war is unthinkable but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about it.”
Most people don’t want war, it’s true, but that does not mean that war can be avoided.
In fact, Australians should be hoping that if there is a war, that the USA steps in, because at the moment Australia’s position needs work. The realities of military preparedness and issues around political will need to be resolved.
The left wing governments of Victoria, New Zealand and Canada have been making deals with China. That whole trend needs to be reversed.
Australians need to wake up to what an aggressive China actually means.
First, some background on Taiwan. It is an island democracy of 24 million, a 24-carat democracy that breaches nobody’s human rights. It has a different history from China but was generally part of China until 1895 when the Japanese took control.
After World War II it reverted to mainland Chinese control in 1945. Beijing was then governed by the anti-communist Kuomintang party of Chiang Kai-shek.
The Chinese Communist Party defeated the KMT in the Chinese civil war, and Chiang and his forces fled to Taiwan where they set up a government, and a nation, in exile. The KMT was pretty autocratic in Taiwan but it democratised in the 1980s and Taiwan has been stable, peaceful and prosperous ever since, with a free media, hi-tech industries, the peaceful rotation of power and the stable rule of law.
So in the past 124 years Taiwan has been ruled directly by Beijing for just four years, the last time more than 70 years ago.
When the US established diplomatic relations with Beijing in 1979 it established a diplomatic formula to cover Taiwan. Both Washington and Beijing agreed there was “one China” but they also declared that Beijing would seek reunification through peaceful means.
The US passed the Taiwan Relations Act, which commits it to maintaining Taiwan’s security and holds that neither side — neither Beijing nor Taipei or Washington for that matter — can change the status quo by force.
The Taiwanese democracy has absolutely zero interest in being absorbed into China’s increasingly harsh Leninist totalitarian system.
China’s President Xi Jinping has declared that it must be absorbed and the issue cannot pass “from generation to generation”.
Given those insoluble conflicts, let’s consider what a very bad case scenario, not necessarily the worst case but a very bad case, of a “kinetic” shooting conflict of some description between the US and China would mean for Australia.
Australia would be involved. Australia must be involved. Australia would not sit out while the US took on China. And if the US failed to act, then Australia would be taking up a very serious leadership role to stand for world freedom.
China views Australia as a proxy for the US, so China would be very desirous to take on Australia. After all, Australia has a good relationship with China’s neighbours and Australia also sits in a commanding position in the Southern Hemisphere with good possibilities to resist China’s influence on Pacific islands.
Australia has many arrangements with the US, and the role for Pine Gap as part of the Indo-Pacific signals intelligence network make Australian an indispensable base and friend for the US in any Chinese-American war. Indeed, Australia must take up the Pacific islands under its own mantle of responsibility.
It is also speculated that Australian facilities provide the US with early warnings of ballistic missile firings in this region of the globe.
Again, the over-the-horizon Jindalee Operational Radar Network is an important component in keeping an eye on the region.
The same considerations might apply to our signals intelligence facility at Geraldton, and to the North West Cape facility, which provides the very low frequency signals for communication to our submarines, and seemingly still to US submarines.
Much more can be said too about the work of Australian submarines, as well as the work undertaken at various locations, including Swan Island in Victoria. Eastern Africa, the Middle East, southern Asia all are geopolitically within range of Australia’s part of the capabilities of the English-speaking world leading nations.
Australia must move to get its act together. This includes galvanising its political will.
In any kind of US-China conflict that went for more than a couple of weeks, say one around a Chinese blockade of Taiwan, it is very likely that Australia would contribute F-35 fighters, Wedgetail command and control aircraft, or electronic warfare Growler aircraft to work as part of the American force. These presumably would operate out of Guam or some other US-allied base.
Few countries in the world would suffer more severe or immediate dislocation than Australia in the event of any conflict. Australia depends on imports and exports, which must be by sea and air.
The US must act. But Australia must help. If Australia did not act, then it would leave Australia to be exposed and vulnerable and in a worse security position than it has ever been any time since World War II.
One commentator said, “We could get the worst of both worlds, with the Americans determining we weren’t worth fighting for but the Chinese still considering us a US ally and therefore an enemy, while if we stood aside we would of course be in breach of our ANZUS Treaty and we would destroy ANZUS.”
The ANZUS Treaty describes the arrangement between Australia, New Zealand and the USA, it is a kind of NATO pact for the Pacific. It says, “An armed attack on any one of the parties is deemed to include an armed attack on the metropolitan territory of any of the parties, or on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific or on its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific.”
The current situation in New Zealand with their signing on to the Belt and Road initiative is a cause for great concern. The problem is the left wing government in New Zealand. This highlights a wider problem, that the culture war and the ideological conflict entire left versus right conflict which is now taking place.
Chinese Communism is on side with the left. They are backing it, funding it and stoking it. The Greens, GetUp and all kinds of organisations are the best friends China has in Australia.
The political conflict that in recent years was exemplified by the radical left versus Donald Trump is a manifestation of this wider conflict, which is a battle for the soul and backbone of Western civilisation.
While the battle of ideas is the real war, the other war of the “hip pocket” is also very immediate and terrifying.
China through its cyber activities, dirty diplomacy and sabre rattling is having an impact on Australia’s economy, and war could lead to immediate and immense economic disruption.
The global economy would probably shatter into two rival systems, a US system and a China-dominated system. Even if this happened a little less fully than we might forecast, the consequences for Australia would be huge.
For a start, all of our exports to China would stop immediately. Whether that was Beijing’s decision or Canberra’s wouldn’t matter. It is completely inconceivable that we could export iron ore to a nation that was at war with the US. It just wouldn’t happen.
Finally, both the US and China are such immensely formidable military powers that any war could involve casualties on both sides.
Beijing is trying to win the Taiwan conflict without firing a shot by convincing the world that its triumph is inevitable and would be swift, and that resistance is futile.
In fact this is not remotely true. Taiwan is 130km from mainland China. It is difficult water to cross and Taiwan is a difficult island to invade. In World War II, US commanders decided Okinawa would be easier to invade than Taiwan.
It is true that China has an overwhelming military superiority against Taiwan and that Taiwan has not done enough to make itself an unbearably costly prize. But Taiwan could do this relatively cheaply. Just as Beijing has adopted an asymmetric military strategy against the US, so other nations need to adopt asymmetric strategies against Beijing.
If Taiwan deployed several hundred smart sea mines, these would make it all but impossible for Beijing to transport the vast numbers of troops it would need across the Taiwan Strait.
Similarly, Beijing would need to mass forces, ships and troops in ports before advancing towards Taiwan. It also would rely heavily on its ground-based air defences against the US. This means those ports and those mainland air defences would be inevitable US military targets.
The guided-missile destroyer Shenzhen fires its close-in weapons system at mock sea targets in waters off the South China Sea.
Some commentators ask: what would victory possibly look like in such a conflict? The answer is simple. Victory would consist in the continued independent existence of democratic Taiwan.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute gave several reasons why the US would be compelled to keep Taiwan out of Beijing’s control.
One is geography. Beijing’s geo-strategic power and military reach would be massively augmented by taking Taiwan. Continued US military presence in the Pacific would be much more problematic.
Two is the principle of democracy. The US would not sell out defending democracy.
Three is Taiwan’s unique role in global semiconductor production. The acquisition of Taiwan by Beijing would be a massive leap in technological capability.
Four is the critical question of decisive momentum in geo-strategic competition.
The Biden administration is in a real conflict. Ideologically, the influences for China and against the US are rife within the thought processes of the Democratic Party. Things are not so advanced, as Biden has been willing to say some things about China. But Biden himself is weak and guided by other forces.
Strong actions are therefore required in Australia while the US dithers. Australia must reverse all Belt and Road arrangements in Australia. All leases and Chinese activities in Australia must come under intense scrutiny.
Politically, Australia must shake itself free from Chinese-backed ideology and propaganda. The Australian Labor Party is in danger of being fully rule by Chinese interests. The Liberal Party in each of the states are undergoing a similar internal battle. Western Australia went woke. New South Wales is fractured, while the Victorian Liberals are hanging in the balance. A shift either way could have huge impacts for the future.
Peter Dutton has a massive task as he must prepare the Australian public and the military for the future.