Australia-US Preparing ‘Contingencies’ Around Possible Taiwan Conflict

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Australia and the United States are working on “contingencies” if there is an outbreak of conflict around Taiwan, according to a senior U.S. diplomat.

Michael Goldman, charge d’affaires at the U.S. embassy in Canberra told The Australian National University’s (ANU) National Security Podcast last week that Australia and the U.S. are working closely together on security issues.

Flags of Taiwan and U.S. are placed for a meeting between U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce speaks and with Su Chia-chyuan, President of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, Taiwan on March 27, 2018. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)
Flags of Taiwan and U.S. are placed for a meeting between U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce speaks and with Su Chia-chyuan, President of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, Taiwan on March 27, 2018. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

“I think we’re committed as allies to working together, not only in making our militaries interoperable and functioning well together but also in strategic planning,” Goldman said.

“And when you look at strategic planning, it covers the range of contingencies that you’ve mentioned, of which Taiwan is obviously an important component,” he added.

Beijing’s hostile rhetoric towards Taiwan has increased over the past year, since the re-election of President Tsai Ing-wen.

In recent months, Chinese military jets have also made near-daily incursions into Taiwanese airspace. with the largest being in late March, when 20 Chinese military planes entered Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone.

Goldman said working together with allies would be the key to maintaining power in the Indo-Pacific region.

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A projectile is launched from a Taiwanese-made Thunderbolt-2000 multiple rocket system during the annual Han Kuang military drills in Taichung, Taiwan, on July 16, 2020. (Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images)

“One thing that we’re determined to do is we’re not going to get out in front of our allies,” he said.

“In fact, we’re going to move with them because that really is the secret sauce of our power in the Indo-Pacific,” he added.

In December last year, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu called on Australia to stand up for democracy and defend the island against potential threats.

“Australia has been a very powerful element or actor in the Indo Pacific,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“I see like-minded countries like Japan and Australia and India and the United States can also work together to prevent China from further expansionism,” he added.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison last year called the Indo-Pacific region the “epicentre of rising strategic competition” while announcing a 10-year, $270 billion funding package into upgrading the Australian Defence Force.

One of the main focuses will be to give the military more long-range, strike power to influence the “calculus of cost” for an adversary, if it decided to attack Australia.

The Biden administration meanwhile last month sought to assure Taiwan that the United States would support its ally by establishing a Coast Guard Working Group. The United States has traditionally been the largest arms supplier to Taiwan as well.

War game analysts believe an attack on the island from Beijing could be around the corner, with one expert believing the regular incursions into Taiwanese airspace, are in fact simulations of a purported invasion.

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