Australia: Anthony Albanese launches defence review as China moves warships on Taiwan

The drama over Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan travel plans, briefly explained

  The drama over Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan travel plans, briefly explained US policy toward Taiwan is all about “strategic ambiguity.” That means every trip and remark has to be just right.For House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, potential travel plans have already caused a domestic political debate and a minor foreign policy fracas.

Anthony Albanese has launched a review of Australia's defence force amid fears that war is looming as tensions over Taiwan escalate.

The review, led by former Defence Chief Sir Angus Houston and ex Labor defence minister Stephen Smith, will advise the Government on how to prepare for potential conflicts over the next decade from 2023.

It comes after China sent 21 military planes into Taiwan's air defence zone after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in the capital Taipei for a congressional visit that has infuriated Beijing.

Demonstrators hold signs during a gathering in support of US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan © Provided by Daily Mail Demonstrators hold signs during a gathering in support of US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan Anthony Albanese (right, today) has launched a review of Australia's defence force © Provided by Daily Mail Anthony Albanese (right, today) has launched a review of Australia's defence force

China - which believes Taiwan is part of its territory and not an independent nation - has dispatched a destroyer and a frigate into international waters off the east of the self-governing island which Beijing has vowed to reclaim by force if necessary.

As Pelosi departs, Taiwan reflects on controversial US visit

  As Pelosi departs, Taiwan reflects on controversial US visit Taiwanese experts reassured of US support as China gears up for military drills in waters surrounding island.In response to Pelosi’s visit, China announced live-fire military exercises across six zones in waters surrounding the island of Taiwan that will start on Thursday and continue through Sunday.

Beijing has planned impromptu military drills, sparking fears of the first firing of missiles into the Taiwan Strait since 1995, the last time there was deep concern about the possibility of all-out war.

Mimicking the US approach of 'strategic ambiguity', Australia is not committed to defend Taiwan if China attacks but needs to be prepared for a conflict that may extend across Asia and even into the Pacific.

Australia's defence review, which Labor announced before the election, is due to report by March and will be the most comprehensive in 35 years.

The terms of reference for the review say the world is facing higher likelihood of war.

'The world is undergoing significant strategic realignment. Military modernisation, technological disruption and the risk of state-on-state conflict are complicating Australia's strategic circumstances,' the document says.

China begins military exercises around Taiwan hours after two suspected drones fly over island's territory

  China begins military exercises around Taiwan hours after two suspected drones fly over island's territory China has begun another series of military exercises around Taiwan as tensions continue to rise following a 24-hour visit to the island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. © Associated Press Chinese navy warships are taking part in the drills (file pic) Chinese state media is reporting the drills are under way hours after suspected drones flew over Taiwan's territory on Wednesday and hackers targeted the defence ministry's website.Taiwan said before the military exercises began on Thursday morning that some of the drills were due to take place within its 12-nautical-mile sea and air territory.

Speaking in a press conference on Wednesday, Sir Angus said Australia is facing the worst strategic environment he has ever seen.

Pictured: HMAS Rankin conducts helicopter transfers in Cockburn Sound, Western Australia during training last year © Provided by Daily Mail Pictured: HMAS Rankin conducts helicopter transfers in Cockburn Sound, Western Australia during training last year

'Clearly our circumstances have changed dramatically over the recent past. A land war in Europe, all sorts of issues in north-east Asia, particularly around Taiwan, east China Sea, issues in South-East Asia and issues up on the Himalayan border and northern India. So there's much happening,' he said.

'We also have disruptive technologies coming into play. It's a fast changing environment and it's absolutely imperative that we review the current strategic circumstances which I rate the worst I have ever seen in my career and life time, and what we need to do about it in terms of obviously the force structure, posture, and capability of the Australian Defence Force.'

Australian ministers have avoided doing a Pelosi for almost a decade. Why is that?

  Australian ministers have avoided doing a Pelosi for almost a decade. Why is that? Balancing relations with Taiwan as China ramps up the sabre-rattling will be a touchy foreign policy challenge for the Labor government.There is a well-worn playbook of official yet unofficial relations between Taiwan and Australia — as well as other nations — that play out to satisfy Beijing. Australia’s substantial representative office in Taiwan does not have diplomatic status. But it remains an important foreign affairs post and its head reports to Australia’s ambassador in Beijing. Taiwan’s representative office in Australia is the “Taipei Economic and Cultural Office”.

The review will provide analysis of where and how defence assets and personnel are best positioned to protect Australia and its national interests.

It will also look at what more equipment needs to be purchased.

Defence Minister Richard Marles said the review will also consider how Australia's capabilities can be 'better integrate and operate' with the United States, the United Kingdom and other key partners.

Meanwhile in China, pictures posted on Chinese social network Weibo appeared to show tanks amassing on the coast of Fujian, the closest point on mainland China to the island.

Australian ministers have avoided doing a Pelosi for almost a decade. Why is that?

  Australian ministers have avoided doing a Pelosi for almost a decade. Why is that? Travis Whyte pleaded guilty to eight charges admitting to assuming the identity of another man to avoid police and take the road trip of a lifetime

In bizarre scenes, beachgoers stood watching as dozens of tanks rolled across the sand.

Columns of armoured vehicles were also seen moving through the nearby city of Xiamen, and a video posted on state media sites earlier this week showed off Chinese military hardware and urged troops to 'be ready to fight upon command, bury all incoming enemies'.

China considers Taiwan its territory and has indicated through repeated warnings that a visit from the US speaker of the House of Representatives is a major affront.

The Taiwanese defence ministry published this map of the Chinese planes' manoeuvres © Provided by Daily Mail The Taiwanese defence ministry published this map of the Chinese planes' manoeuvres

Mrs Pelosi's US C-40C military aircraft took an indirect route to Taiwan from Malaysia yesterday in an apparent attempt to avoid being intercepted by Chinese jets before landing at 10.30pm local time.

Beijing's foreign ministry said: 'These moves, like playing with fire, are extremely dangerous. Those who play with fire will perish by it.'

Nathan Ruser, a researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said China's hastily announced military exercises, due to last until Sunday, were 'unambiguously escalatory' and 'the most provocative moves by China in decades [which] would qualify for the UN definition of state aggression.'

Pelosi defies China during meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen: 'We will not abandon our commitment'

  Pelosi defies China during meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen: 'We will not abandon our commitment' House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan included a meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, where the American lawmaker reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to supporting Taiwan.During her remarks at the president's office in Taipei, Pelosi addressed U.S.-Taiwan relations, a point of contention for the Chinese government.

Taipei's defence ministry said the 'Chinese manoeuvres aim to intimidate our citizens psychologically [but] we are closely monitoring the situation and have strengthened our preparations'.

'We have confidence and the ability to protect our security,' it added.

  Anthony Albanese launches defence review as China moves warships on Taiwan © Provided by Daily Mail Surrounded: China is planning live fire military exercises around Taiwan from August 4-7, the Xinjua News Agency announced © Provided by Daily Mail Surrounded: China is planning live fire military exercises around Taiwan from August 4-7, the Xinjua News Agency announced

Mrs Pelosi's visit comes amid fears that China is preparing to invade Taiwan to 're-unify' the island with the mainland.

The US does not maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but regards the island state as a bulwark against China's dominance in Asia.

In a statement released moments after she landed, Mrs Pelosi said the visit was to 'honour America's unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan's vibrant democracy'.

The speaker, 82, said the trip to Asia, which includes stops in Singapore, South Korea and Japan, was 'focused on mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance' rather than changing US policy.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Air Force plane - with its distinctive blue and white colors and American flag on the tail - touched down in Taipei at 10.45pm local time © Provided by Daily Mail Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Air Force plane - with its distinctive blue and white colors and American flag on the tail - touched down in Taipei at 10.45pm local time

She said: 'America's solidarity with the 23million people of Taiwan is more important today than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy'.

In an article for the Washington Post, which went online after her arrival, Mrs Pelosi escalated her rhetoric, saying that Taiwan's democracy was 'under threat'.

Pelosi’s Taiwan Trip Isn’t Helpful to Anyone But China

  Pelosi’s Taiwan Trip Isn’t Helpful to Anyone But China The primary (and very likely only) beneficiary of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan is the People’s Republic of China. Virtually none of the goals that the California congresswoman seeks to advance by making the trip—the highest level visit by a U.S. official in a quarter century—will be achieved. Taiwan will not be strengthened. In fact, the trip is already increasing tensions across the straits of Taiwan at a dangerous moment. SeniorSenior Biden administration officials attempted to dissuade Pelosi from making the trip to Taiwan for just this reason.

She wrote that the US Department of Defence had concluded that the ramping up of military activity by the Chinese meant they were 'likely' to be planning to use force to take the island.

Mrs Pelosi criticised China's 'abysmal human rights record and disregard for the rule of law', which continued as 'President Xi Jinping tightens his grip on power'.

In a telephone call with President Xi last week, Mr Biden explained that he could not rein in Mrs Pelosi because Congress is an independent branch of government.

Ordering her not to go would also have been seen as buckling to Chinese pressure.

The speaker has been a staunch critic of China throughout her three decades in Congress and 30 years ago unfurled a banner in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in memory of those killed in the bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. Mrs Pelosi was also a strong supporter of the 2019 freedom protests in Hong Kong.

She was expected to meet Taiwan's president today and visit the country's parliament during the trip, which was not officially announced and will last at least a day.

Barricades were erected outside the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Taipei where Mrs Pelosi was expected to stay amid heightened security.

The visit showed 'rock solid' support from Washington, Taiwan said. But there were some protests against her presence. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said there would be 'serious consequences' for America resulting from the trip. During his call with Mr Biden, President Xi warned him about 'playing with fire' over Taiwan.

Adding to the tensions, Russia spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that Mrs Pelosi's visit would 'exacerbate the situation in the region' and that it fully supported its old communist ally China.

The US military is expected to increase its movements in the region during the visit.

Taiwan had the upper hand in the 60s, now China knows its power

  Taiwan had the upper hand in the 60s, now China knows its power China has gone from being an impoverished nation unable to repel Taiwan's propaganda missions to posing the greatest threat to peace in Asia in generations. For the past two weeks, the People's Liberation Army has harassed Taiwan's median line, sending missiles over the democratic island, destroyers to surround its territorial waters and warplanes to simulate attacks on its defence forces. The visit to the island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - seen as an insult to Beijing's sovereignty - gave China the excuse to practise a military blockade.

The White House defended Mrs Pelosi's right to go to Taiwan even as President Biden's administration pointed out the speaker makes her own decisions, heads a different branch of government and that there have been no changes to the United States' one-China policy.

The administration also warned Beijing not to harm the speaker.

Eight US F-15 fighter jet and five tanker aircraft took off from a U.S. base in Okinawa to provide protection for Pelosi's flight, NHK reported.

Taiwan gave Pelosi a warm welcome. The island's tallest building, TAIPEI 101, lit up with a welcome message for Speaker Pelosi and supporters held welcome signs out of the hotel she will reportedly stay in.

Her visit, which was never publicly announced for security reasons, is part of a broader trip she is taking to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.

'Our discussions with Taiwan leadership will focus on reaffirming our support for our partner and on promoting our shared interests, including advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific region. America's solidarity with the 23 million people of Taiwan is more important today than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy,' Pelosi said.

And she reaffirmed America's one-China policy.

'Our visit is one of several Congressional delegations to Taiwan – and it in no way contradicts longstanding United States policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, U.S.-China Joint Communiques and the Six Assurances. The United States continues to oppose unilateral efforts to change the status quo,' she noted.

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Taiwan had the upper hand in the 60s, now China knows its power .
China has gone from being an impoverished nation unable to repel Taiwan's propaganda missions to posing the greatest threat to peace in Asia in generations. For the past two weeks, the People's Liberation Army has harassed Taiwan's median line, sending missiles over the democratic island, destroyers to surround its territorial waters and warplanes to simulate attacks on its defence forces. The visit to the island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - seen as an insult to Beijing's sovereignty - gave China the excuse to practise a military blockade.

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