Australia: Security official warns of 'drums of war'

Australia: Security official warns of 'drums of war'

"We are willing to do our best to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification, but we will never leave any space for "Taiwan independence" separatist activities in any form", he said.

"The overarching message from government is that we need to be alert but not alarmed", she said.

Australian officials and lawmakers were split on Pezzullo and Dutton's comments amid rising tensions with Beijing.

Australia's home affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo.

Australia must reduce the likelihood of war, "but not at the cost of our precious freedom", Pezzullo said.

The chance of a conflict involving China over Taiwan "should not be discounted", but Australia will work with its allies in the region to try and maintain peace, Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton said on Sunday.

"For us, we want to make sure we continue to be a good neighbour in the region, that we work with our partners and with our allies, as nobody wants to see conflict between China and Taiwan or anywhere else".

The comments follow the contentious decision by Foreign Minister Marise Payne to scrap Victoria's controversial infrastructure agreement with Beijing linked to China's Belt and Road initiative.

Pezzullo noted that this year marks the 70th anniversary of Australia's defence treaty with the United States.

Beijing's spokesperson said China hopes Australia will "look at bilateral cooperation in an objective and rational light" and that Canberra will stop "disrupting normal exchange" and cooperation with China.

During a speech on Monday outlining her vision for the island nation's relationship with Beijing, New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said her government would resist efforts by its allies, including Australia, to expand the role of Five Eyes to combat increasing Chinese aggression.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was the first world leader to call for an independent inquiry into the origins of the virus, sparking fury from Beijing and sharp retaliation via an escalating series of trade sanctions and increasingly hostile rhetoric.

Australia's relationship with China, its top trading partner, started to significantly deteriorate in April a year ago, when Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, which was first registered in Wuhan in the country's Hubei province in December 2019.

Last month, America's chargé d'affaires in Canberra, Michael Goldman, hinted that Washington expects Australia to participate in Taiwan's defence. But then we're also concerned with all sorts of other aspects of coercion that don't quite reach the level of a military invasion.

The Hainan is China's first Type 075 amphibious assault ship, while the Changzheng-18 is a nuclear-powered submarine and the Dalian a Type 055 destroyer, the Communist Party-backed Global Times reported, citing military analysts.

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