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US strategic ambiguity towards Taiwan shows 'weakness of will' says former Aussie PM

Tony Abbott calls on democratic nations to defend Taiwan and global order from China and other rising dictatorships

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott during a trip to Washington D.C. 

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott during a trip to Washington D.C.  (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott recently addressed the Legatum Institute in London, where he urged liberal democratic countries around the world to focus on deterrence rather than appeasement in the face of rising authoritarianism across the globe.

In an edited version of the address, published in the Australian, Abbott said that the U.S. has displayed a “weakness of the will” by maintaining its strategic ambiguity towards the defense of Taiwan. He called on the U.S. and other allies to step up their support for Taipei to deter aggression from Beijing, which is “ruthlessly, relentlessly, indefatigably set on crushing… and intimidating,” Taiwan, he said.

In his address, Abbott said that the world had already entered a new cold war. This era of conflict is also likely to turn hot if the democracies of the world continue to drag their feet in standing up to the threat of China, alongside other anti-democratic forces such as Islamists in the Middle East and Putin’s Russia.

“We can be certain, as long as there’s a hard-line communist regime in Beijing, that there will be an attempt to seize Taiwan,” said Abbott.

Abbott urged the allied democracies of the world to work harder to decouple critical supply chains and not appease China.

To ensure that the U.S.-led alliance has the resilience to respond to multiple threats, other nations, like Australia, must do more to shoulder the burden of maintaining global order. Abbot acknowledged that too many nations have been “free-riding on America’s strength and benevolence,” which has led to the current global predicament and a rise in isolationist thinking for many in the U.S., especially among the Republican party.

Abbott issued an ominous warning in regards to China’s designs on Taiwan and the threat this would pose to the current global order.

"If the US fails to defend Taiwan, the whole global order is deranged, as former US allies make the best accommodations they can with their challengers; or alternatively arm themselves to the teeth in the harsh new world that the Pax Americana no longer sustains. But if America does defend Taiwan, there will be a Chinese attack on all the US bases in the western Pacific, including in Japan and Australia, and most likely general war as every discontented dictatorship takes advantage of the chaos.”

Amid current circumstances and the likelihood of conflict in East Asia, Abbott said the U.S. must make its position and intentions clear by rejecting strategic ambiguity towards Taiwan. This would represent a concrete step towards regaining “moral health and martial vigor,” to avoid the worst-case scenarios that may soon be on the horizon.