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Taiwanese Academic Warns Australia About Beijing’s ‘Dangerous Expansion’

A People's Liberation Army member looks through binoculars during military exercises as Taiwan's frigate Lan Yang is seen in the background on Aug. 5, 2022. (Lin Jian/Xinhua via AP)

The recently assassinated former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe once said “A Taiwan emergency is a Japanese emergency, and therefore an emergency for the Japan–U.S. alliance.” Australia should adopt the same stance now, according to a Taiwanese expert.

Dr. David Yeau-Tarn Lee called on Australia to play a stronger role in combating the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in his speech “Democratization and Peace in the Taiwan Strait” at the Culture Centre of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Sydney on Sept. 23.

Lee is an adjunct professor at the Graduate Institute of Development Studies of National Chengchi University (NCCU). He served as the vice president of NCCU’s Academy of Social Sciences and the director of Taiwan’s Graduate Institute of National Development. His research topics include political thought, democracy, liberalism, democratization, human rights, and ecologism.

Epoch Times Photo Dr. David Yeau-Tarn Lee giving a speech at the Culture Centre of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Sydney on Sept. 23, 2022. (The Epoch Times)

Lee’s visit comes at a time when tensions are rising across the Taiwan Strait. Last month, the CCP launched live-fire military drills in the seas surrounding Taiwan, which was widely seen as a retaliation against the self-ruled island for U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visit on Aug. 2.

Xiao Qian, the Chinese ambassador to Australia, said during an address to the Australian National Press Club on Aug. 10 that secessionists who sought to move Taiwan toward independence would be punished when the island was “reunified” with the mainland.

Taiwan has been self-governed since 1949 with its own military, democratically elected government, and constitution, despite the CCP’s claim that it is a renegade province and must be united with the mainland, by force if necessary.

Australia’s Role in Combating CCP in Indo-Pacific 

The Australian government has already realized the threat of the CCP and has been doing well in addressing it in recent years, Lee told The Epoch Times.

Recent events in the Solomon Islands have been a wake-up call for many in Australia with the Pacific islands nation’s leader Manasseh Sogavare signing a security pact with Beijing and allowing Chinese security forces to start training courses for the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force. Sogavare has also delayed the country’s national elections.

Epoch Times Photo Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, right, locks arms with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Honiara, Solomon Islands, on May 26, 2022. (Xinhua via AP)

“What a good relationship the Solomon Islands [used to] have with Australia! But no matter how good you treat it, the CCP would bribe [its officials],” Lee said.

In addition to the government, there is also a stronger awareness of Beijing’s threat among the Australian people. According to a recent survey, one in 10 Australians believes China will attack Australia soon, while just one in 20 Taiwanese think that China will attack Taiwan soon.

In response to Beijing’s behavior in the Indo-Pacific, Australia formed AUKUS, a historical trilateral security partnership with the United States and the United Kingdom in 2021, in which the U.S. and U.K. governments will assist Australia with acquiring nuclear-powered submarines.

“Australia’s awakening is like, the U.S. and the U.K., talking to Australia at the same time about its importance,” Lee said, talking about AUKUS.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong called out Beijing on Aug. 5 for its “disproportionate and destabilizing” live-fire drills near Taiwan and urged “restraint and de-escalation” in the area.

China helicopter A Navy Force helicopter under the Eastern Theatre Command of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) takes part in military exercises in the waters around Taiwan on Aug. 8, 2022. (Eastern Theatre Command/Handout via Reuters)Future Potentials of Australia-Taiwan Relations

Asked about what more Australia can do to support Taiwan, Lee said that other than retired politicians, incumbent Australian policymakers can also visit Taiwan, as their counterparts in the United States and Europe have already done.

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who supported Taiwan’s joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) regional trade bloc, visited the island in 2021.

Lee also suggests that governments, including the United States and Australia, may have diplomatic relations with China and Taiwan at the same time, as the historical examples of South and North Korea and East and West Germany.

Australia currently doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Taiwan and acknowledges Beijing’s “One-China policy.”

Epoch Times Photo An H-6 bomber of the Chinese PLA Air Force flies near a Taiwan F-16 in this Feb. 10, 2020 handout photo provided by the Taiwan Ministry of National Defense. (Taiwan Ministry of National Defense/Handout via Reuters)Threat of Autocratic Regimes 

The conflicts between democracy and autocracy are inevitable for human beings, and they may eventually influence the whole world, Lee said.

“There has never been a war between democracies, and the democratic system best respects individual freedom and human rights. However, countries in the process of democratization are also relatively less stable and are even more likely to wage wars to deflect internal pressure,” he said.

“If China can promote democratization and smoothly transform into a liberal democracy, a great revolution and a world war can be avoided; if democratization does not occur or democratic transformation does not go smoothly, the fourth great revolution or another world war may occur.”

Lee said he believes that if a third world war ever happens, Australia will be heavily involved.

“It’d be inevitable for Australia to face the consequence of [the CCP’s] dangerous expansion,” he said.

“So I think Australia needs to awaken further,” he said.

“It plays an important role in the confrontation between liberal democracy and autocracy.”