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Australian think tank calls for G20 ‘emergency meeting’ on defending Taiwan

ASPI executive director also recommends Australia post a defense liaison in Taipei

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US Marines march to beach from landing craft utility for amphibious assault exercise. (US Navy photo)

US Marines march to beach from landing craft utility for amphibious assault exercise. (US Navy photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The head of a prominent Australian think tank has published an article calling for stronger deterrence, arguing the only way to prevent a war over Taiwan is to change China's "calculation of the risk and costs of starting a conflict.”

In an article for “The Strategist," published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), the group's executive director Peter Jennings calls for an “emergency meeting of the G20” to make an “unambiguous commitment” to Taiwan’s security. “Deterrence secures the peace, whereas appeasement will surely lead to war,” he states.

Jennings describes China's leader Xi Jinping (習近平) as a “successful risk taker” who has learned that he can get away with illegal unilateral actions like territorial expansion in the South China Sea, repression in Hong Kong, and global cyber theft. He says these victories have emboldened him and he now has his sights set on taking Taiwan.

China’s recent incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) along with other steps taken to turn up the heat on Taiwan are “aimed at testing how far Xi can move without receiving pushback.”

Jennings says the best way to keep the peace in the Taiwan Strait is to convince Xi that taking Taiwan would be too risky a move. Jennings also calls on Australia to exchange intelligence with Taiwan, citing the example of the three other Quad countries — Japan, India and the U.S.

He recommends the Australian government post a defense liaison to the Australia Office in Taipei and invite Taiwan to send a counterpart to Canberra. Jennings says mutual understanding between the two countries’ defense planners is key, seeing that any “war over Taiwan will inevitably involve Australia.”

He argued that communication channels must be improved, lamenting Canberra’s “hard reading” of the so-called “one China policy” had previously made communication with Taiwanese counterparts difficult when he was a senior defense official. “We run the risk that we could be asked to defend Taiwan without ever having discussed the task with the Taiwan military,” he warns.