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Australia ‘in the gun’ as dispute with China over Taiwan escalates

Australia faces being “in the gun” in any conflict between Taiwan and China and needs to invest in its own missile systems, according to opposition defence spokesman Andrew Hastie.

Mr Hastie on Sunday described Australia as facing a “very bleak” strategic outlook amid China’s expansionist ambitions.

Tensions between Australia and China strained after foreign minister Penny Wong condemned Beijing for volleying ballistic missiles into waters around Taiwan’s coastline, describing the exercises as “disproportionate and destabilising”.

The Chinese embassy criticised Canberra as “finger-pointing” and claimed it was the victim following a visit to Taiwan by United States house of representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“It is absolutely unacceptable for the finger-pointing on China’s justified actions to safeguard state sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the Chinese embassy said in a statement.

“We firmly oppose and sternly condemn this.”

Supplied  Map from Japan's defence force show the routes of alleged China
 missiles over Taiwan into Japan's exclusive economic zone.
Camera IconMap from Japan’s defence force show the routes of alleged China missiles over Taiwan into Japan’s exclusive economic zone. Credit: Supplied

Mr Hastie told ABC’s Insiders on Sunday that Australia needed to invest in its defensive capabilities including fuel stocks, nuclear submarines, ammunition and long-range missiles.

He emphasised he was in favour of Australia building up its own Australian-made and owned missiles rather than allowing the US to base its missile systems here.

“The point is that if there was a conflict around Taiwan, whether we’re involved directly or indirectly on the periphery, we would certainly be in the gun,” Hastie told the ABC’s Insiders.

“And that’s why we need to build our deterrent strength. That’s why we need to exercise exceptional political leadership, diplomatic leadership.”

Camera IconChina’s top diplomat in Australia issued a blistering statement. NCA NewsWire / Monique Harmer Credit: News Corp Australia

He said he was in favour of Australian building up its deterrent strength though diplomacy, and that the country

a must be prepared to stand up for its neighbours if they come under attack from a foreign aggressor.

“It’s a principled position to defend your neighbour, but it’s also a principle born out of self interest,” he said.

“Because if I don’t stand up for other countries, who is going to stand up for me?

“As a nation of only 26 million on a vast continent we need as many friends as we can get.

“The era of the ‘lucky country’ is over. It’s dead and buried.

“We need to think with this new development over the last decade of how we start securing ourselves into the future.”

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