Beijing considers Taiwan an inalienable part of its territory, but does not exercise control over the island per se. China has recently increased its military presence in the vicinity of the island following intensifying talks between Taipei and Washington, including on the issue of weapons sales to the island.
The US and Australia are engaging in “strategic planning” on a number of issues ranging from cooperation between the two states’ militaries to jointly responding to a possible offensive by China against Taiwan, the American Embassy’s chargé d’affaires, Michael Goldman, has announced speaking on the Australian National University podcast.
“We’re committed as allies to working together – not only in making our militaries interoperable and functioning well together, but also in strategic planning”, the top US diplomat in Australia said.
Goldman stressed that discussions on how to jointly respond to an alleged military operation by Beijing is their top priority.
At the same time, neither the US, nor Australia have so far committed to intervening militarily if such a conflict erupts between China and the island, which Beijing considers a part of its territory.
China’s Tensions With Australia and the US
The revelation by the US chargé d’affaires comes amid continuing tensions between China and the US on a number of issues. Washington has been carrying out talks directly with Taiwan, promising sophisticated weapon sales, among other things, in direct violation of its own pledge to “acknowledge” the “one-China policy”. The US committed to respecting Beijing’s position on the island’s status in the 1970s, but has been increasingly ignoring this vow in recent years to China’s great displeasure.
Washington has been routinely sending its warships to sail through the strait that separates Taiwan from mainland China despite objections from Beijing. China too intensified its military presence near the island sending its own Navy to patrol the Taiwan Strait.
Beijing’s ties with Australia have also seen better times. The two countries have been at odds since 2020, especially since Canberra started pushing for an international investigation into the origins of COVID-19 in China. A recently published report by the World Health Organisation said with a high degree of confidence that the allegations about the laboratory origins of the disease, which had been prolific in 2020, are unsubstantiated.
China also introduced several economic restrictions on some Australian goods in 2020. The Asian state barred imports of Australian beef from four companies citing the need to “secure the health and safety of Chinese consumers”. Canberra thus lost the market for nearly 35% of its beef exports. Beijing also slapped Australian barley with an 80% tariff in May 2020 accusing the country’s companies of dumping and Canberra of illicitly subsidising barley producers.