Sun, Feb 17, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Canberra urged to join against China

GOLDEN RULE?Australian academic Paul Dibb said that Australia not coming to the aid of Taiwan and the US in an attack by China would be a breach of the ANZUS treaty

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The seal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is pictured at the ministry in Taipei on Jan. 1.

Photo: Lu Yi-hsuen, Taipei Times

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday pledged to continue to deepen ties with like-minded nations, while expressing gratitude to a former Australian deputy defense minister who called on Australia to join the US in countering China should Beijing mount a major attack on Taiwan.

Australian National University strategic studies professor Paul Dibb, who served as the Australian deputy secretary for strategy and intelligence from 1988 to 1991, made the call in a Feb. 6 article on the Strategist, the Web site of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a Canberra-based think tank.

As Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) Jan. 2 speech suggested, Beijing is willing to use force against Taiwan to achieve unification, which would be the “crowning achievement” for Xi and his vision of restoring China as a great power, Dibb said.

However, Australian politicians have refused to discuss the conflict and academic publications have mostly described the downsides of any Australian involvement should the US go to war with China over Taiwan, he said.

“This article takes a different line and argues that if China were attacking US forces in a major military conflict across the Taiwan Strait and Australia refused to be involved, the very existence of the ANZUS alliance would be at risk,” Dibb said, referring to the Australia-US-New Zealand defense treaty signed in 1951 to maintain security in the Pacific.

As an offensive against Taiwan would undoubtedly fall within the treaty’s definition of an armed attack in the Pacific, a refusal by Canberra to defend Taipei could be interpreted by Washington “as the ultimate betrayal of our alliance commitment in our own region of primary strategic concern,” Dibb said.

Except for Japan, no other US ally in the region would commit to a military defense of Taiwan in the event of an unprovoked Chinese attack, but would probably look the other way, Dibb said, adding that this could include South Korea, Southeast Asian countries, New Zealand, Canada and other NATO countries.

“It is in our interest to stand up for the defense of a successful democracy of 24 million people living on an island. If Taiwan is not worth defending, why would anyone come to Australia’s defense?” he said.

In a news release yesterday, the ministry said that Australia’s academic community has joined a recent wave of support for Taiwan that includes the executive and legislative branches of many like-minded nations, such as the US, Germany and the UK, and demonstrates that Taiwan’s long-term efforts to promote freedom and democracy have been widely recognized.

“Taiwan will continue cooperation with like-minded nations in defending our shared values of freedom and democracy, and maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” the ministry said.

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