South China Sea: Expert discusses tensions
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Australian senator Jim Molan explained the country can deploy a significant force in the South China Sea to stop any conflict between Taiwan and China. He said there is a “high probability” of deterrence before an attack is made. But Mr Molan added the US would be in a better position to act as a deterrent.
Speaking to Sky News Australia, Senator Molan said: “I think an attack by China across the straits into Taiwan.
“I think there’s a high probability that something will occur beforehand and we may be able to deter that by deploying significant forces into the region.
“The Americans can do it much, much faster than we can.
“They’ve always got submarines there.
“They’ve got enough carrier battle groups to deploy but it’s a very big question for us.
“Should we join them in a deployment of significant naval and air forces in the South China Sea in order to deter China from doing something silly?”
China has showcased increasingly hostile behaviour towards Taiwan, with whom tensions have been high since the creation of the Republic of China in 1949.
Beijing has repeatedly complained about United States Navy ships getting close to islands it occupies in the South China Sea, where Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan all also have competing claims.
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Senator Molan went on to say while conflict is not inevitable, countries are armed and ready.
He added: “There is a concern it might happen sooner rather than later.
“For example, I say that such a scenario is certainly possible because everyone is armed.
“I say that it’s likely because not only are people armed but certain parties particularly China have been very aggressive and are arming themselves even more.
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“But I don’t say it’s inevitable and that’s very important. We’ve got to remain positive in this.”
In recent months, Taiwan has complained of repeated Chinese air force activity near the islands, which Taiwan’s Coast Guard only lightly defends though there are periodic deployments of marines. There is no permanent civilian population, only occasional visiting scientists.
In October, Hong Kong air traffic controllers warned off a Taiwanese civilian flight flying to the Pratas on a routine weekly supply run, forcing it to turn back.
The Pratas, the closest Taiwan-controlled territory to Hong Kong, have also taken on extra significance since anti-government protests began in the Chinese-run city.
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