Australia does not formally recognize Taiwan diplomatically, but the federal government regularly calls for a “peaceful resolution” of differences between China and the small independent nation through dialogue and without the threat or use of force or coercion.
A communique issued after last month’s AUSMIN meetings between Australia and the United States declared that “both sides stated their intent to strengthen ties with Taiwan, which is a leading democracy and a critical partner for both countries”.
As well as closer security ties, the Taiwanese Foreign Minister thanked Australia for supporting its bid to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, now known as the CPTPP, which China also wants to enter.
“As far as I know, Australia has been one of those most vocal members in supporting Taiwan’s participation in CPTPP.
“We have been discussing with each other privately for quite some time and we understand the Australian support and we appreciate the Australian support.”
Earlier this year, America’s most senior diplomat in Canberra also confirmed Australia and the United States were discussing contingency plans in case a military conflict erupts over Taiwan.
Last year, Frances Adamson, the then-head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, warned she was more concerned about a “crisis” in the Taiwan strait than at any other point in her diplomatic career.
Taiwan endorses new AUKUS pact, won’t seek its own nuclear submarines
Taiwan has also welcomed the recent establishment of the AUKUS strategic partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as the growing activity between the Quad allies, the US, India, Australia and Japan.
“We are pleased to see that the like-minded partners of Taiwan — the United States and the UK and Australia — are working closer with each other to acquire more advanced defence articles so that we can defend Indo-Pacific.
“Australia is a great country, and I’m very glad to see that Australia is going to shoulder more responsibility to maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific,” Mr Wu said.
The Taiwanese Foreign Minister said that unlike Australia, his nation would not be trying to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, because it has a “different war strategy”.
“We need to go asymmetric, and we need to have a different type of philosophy in defeating China if there’s going to be a war — so nuclear-powered submarines is not something that we are seeking”.
Defence analyst Professor Clinton Fernandes from the University of New South Wales warns it would be difficult for the US and allies to prevent any invasion attempt by China.
“The military centre of gravity is China’s air defence system in the south, it has the ability to deny the United States control of the air — if the United States cannot control the air, it cannot win either at land or at sea.”
Professor Fernandes doesn’t believe China will launch any military strike on Taiwan before next year’s Beijing Winter Olympics but warns something more coercive is likely ahead of the US presidential elections in 2024.
“The defence of Taiwan is predicated on a Chinese invasion – but if China’s main effort is not an invasion but a blockade, then what? Taiwan doesn’t have a Plan B – that’s the big problem.”