Amid escalating tensions between Australia and China over a range of issues, the Chinese state-media has issued a not-so-veiled threat against Australia. The Global Times, the Communist Party mouthpiece, has said Australia should be targeted with ballistic missile strikes if Canberra gets involved in a military conflict over Taiwan.
The editor of Global Times wrote that Beijing should target Canberra with long-range strikes on its military facilities in the event of Australia taking Taiwan's side in a military conflict.
"The plan should include long-range strikes on the military facilities and relevant key facilities on Australian soil if it really sends its troops to China's offshore areas and combats against the PLA [People's Liberation Army]," wrote Hu Xijin.
Increasing Regional Tension
"In addition to making the plan, China should also reveal this plan through non-official channels to deter the extreme forces of Australia and prevent them from taking the risk and committing irresponsible actions," he added.
The hawkish comment by the influential Chinese editor comes in the wake of increasing regional tension over Taiwan. Last week, Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu had said that his country was preparing to face a "final assault" by China on the island. In an interview with the Australian Financial Review, he sought the help of Australia if such an eventuality ensues.
While Taiwan remains the most volatile element in the sketchy relations between Australia and China, the ties were rocked by other elements as well.
Australia Angers China Over Darwin Port
The Scott Morrison government in Australia angered China recently by mooting a plan to scrap China firm Landbridge's 99-year lease on the Port of Darwin.
In the acerbic piece that reflects the level of Chinese hostility towards Australia, the Global Times chooses to bluntly threaten "disasters" against Australia.
"China has a strong production capability, including producing additional long-range missiles with conventional warheads that target military objectives in Australia when the situation becomes highly tense," the article says.
In Australia, home affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo, meanwhile, mentioned the beating of the "drums of war" in reference to the saber-rattling by China. "... the drums of war beat - sometimes faintly and distantly, and at other times more loudly and ever closer," Pezzullo said, according to ANI news agency.
China considers Taiwan as a renegade province and hasn't abandoned the possibility of using force to annex the island. The power balance tilted in Beijing's favour back in the early 1970s when the United States recognized the People's Republic of China and started diplomatic relations with Beijing.
According to Beijing, Taiwan's reunification with the mainland is only a matter of time. China insists that it is the only large nation in the world that is yet to be completely reunified. "Resolving the Taiwan question so as to realise China's full reunification is the irresistible trend of the times, China's greatest national interest, the righteous path to follow and the longing of all Chinese people," China's defense minister Wei Fenghe had said a few years ago.