Australia needs to help US defend Taiwan against China

ANZUS Alliance at risk if Australia fails to help US, Taiwan: Former Australian defense official

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The Australian Navy visiting Vanuatu (Facebook, Defence Australia photo) 

The Australian Navy visiting Vanuatu (Facebook, Defence Australia photo) 

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — If the United States defends Taiwan against a Chinese attack, Australia must go and help out or it will be seen as betraying its alliance commitments in its own Pacific home region, a former Australian deputy defense secretary said Tuesday (Aug. 4).

In an opinion piece published by The Australian, Paul Dibb explains how China is turning more aggressive as it realizes public opinion in Taiwan has grown more opposed to unification than ever before. Communist leader Xi Jinping (習近平) could also use a conflict with Taiwan to divert attention from his handling of the pandemic, the emeritus professor of strategic studies at Australian National University wrote.

As Australia is a member of the ANZUS Alliance with the U.S. and New Zealand, it should regard any invasion of Taiwan as an armed attack in the Pacific area, according to Dibb. If it refused assistance to the U.S. in such a conflict, it would be seen in Washington “as the ultimate betrayal of our alliance commitment in our own region,” he wrote.

Dibb predicted that if the U.S. did not come to the defense of Taiwan, its regional allies would desert it, with Japan and South Korea opting for their own nuclear weapons. If Washington did help Taiwan but Australia refused to join in, the ANZUS Alliance might be disbanded.

However, Taiwan was unlikely to receive lots of assistance, according to the Australian defense expert. South Korea, Southeast Asia, New Zealand, probably Canada, and NATO would “look the other way,” he wrote. Only Japan might make “a military or logistic contribution” because a Chinese occupation of Taiwan would threaten Okinawa and its own territory, with China positioning nuclear submarines off Taiwan’s east coast.

It is in Australia’s interest to stand up for a “successful democracy” like Taiwan. Otherwise, why would anyone come to Australia’s defense, Dibb concluded.