Australia's former prime minister Tony Abbott visited Taipei on Friday where he gave a speech urging the international community to show "solidarity" with the self-ruled island, resulting in a quick reaction out of China demanding that Canberra officails stay out of its internal affairs.
Abbott provocatively told the conference that "any attempt at coercion would have incalculable consequences" for China and strongly suggested that both the United States and Australia would come to Taiwan's aid militarily. "I don't believe America could stand by and watch [Taiwan] swallowed up," he said, added of his own country: "I don't believe Australia would be indifferent to the fate of a fellow democracy of almost 25 million people."
The bellicose words come on the heels of last month's AUKUS agreement between Australia, the US and UK, which will see nuclear-powered submarine technology transferred to Canberra for the first time in history. Beijing is accusing Australia of violating its own commitments to maintaining a nuclear free zone.
Abbott's speech was met with a response of out Chinese state media mouthpiece Global Times, which said in an op-ed published the same day that Aussie leaders are "recklessly" joining Washington in a push for Taiwan "secessionism". GT author Chen Hong said the following:
"Should Australia be so reckless as to challenge China’s sovereignty over Taiwan, there is absolutely no room for maneuver or diplomatic solution. Seismic changes could take place in the bilateral relations."
The piece further charged Western media and politicians to hyping the Taiwan situation to the point of manufacturing "an atmosphere of crisis" by "distorting and falsifying".
"It is no secret that the anti-China forces in the West have been taking advantage of the media to create an atmosphere of crisis - usually by distorting and falsifying the actual situation - before taking any concrete steps of substance," Chen wrote.
Golly. Tony Abbott speech in Taiwan. Extraordinary. A direct reference to Xi, saying China has "cancelled popular personalities in favour of a cult of the new red emperor." Accuses Beijing of wanting to make Australia a "tributary state" pic.twitter.com/91rtgU0CgY— Stephen Dziedzic (@stephendziedzic) October 8, 2021
The fiery op-ed particularly denounced former PM Abbot's visit to the island as part of increasing "acts of recklessness from Canberra." It added that with these provocations "the bilateral relations could face cataclysmic upheaval."
"On the Taiwan question, Australia has been playing the role of a daring vanguard for the US, helping Washington test the regional waters to gauge China's tolerance and test China's responses," the state media article described. "Many are worried that Australia might imprudently follow the lead of some European countries to take injudicious actions."
The AUKUS defense pact certainly suggests this "testing" of the regional waters is accurate. So far it's only resulted in a firmer and firmer response from China, and up the escalation ladder we go...