Mr Dutton argued there was a stark contrast between China’s “rhetoric” and the “reality” of the Asian superpower’s military expansion.
He called for a “more honest” analysis of Australia’s strategic position on Taiwan claiming the price of inaction could be higher than the price of action.
“Please don’t rely on your imagination,” he urged Australians. “The Chinese Communist Party could not be any clearer.”
A successful Taiwan invasion would ‘massively destabilise’ our region
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Mr Dutton confirmed Australia’s position: “conflict must be avoided” and added any armed clash with China would be “catastrophic”.
He later asked: “Does the Chinese government wish to occupy other countries?” He said: “Not in my judgement but they do see us as tributary states.”
“If Taiwan is taken, surely the Senkakus are next,” Mr Dutton said as he discussed China’s military ambitions towards a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.
The Chinese embassy in Canberra published a statement on Friday afternoon, branding Mr Dutton’s speech as “outdated” and “visionless”.
Dutton’s China speech an ‘effective contrast’ to the ‘kowtowing’ of Paul Keating
“In his NPC speech, Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton continued preaching his quixoticmisunderstanding of China’s foreign policy,” the embassy fired back.
The statement claimed he was “distorting China’s efforts to safeguard sovereignty and territorial integrity” and promoting international division and conflict.
Mr Dutton’s speech was labelled “misguiding” for the Australian people in relation to regional situations and priorities.
The Chinese embassy claimed the Defence Minister was “fanning conflict and division between peoples and nations”.
China has capability to fire missiles on ‘every major Australian city’
“It is inconceivable that China-Australia relationship will take on a good momentum … if the Australian Government bases its national strategy on such visionless analysis and outdated mentality,” it continued.
The statement also argued the “overall interest” of countries in the region including Australia would not be served well by Mr Dutton’s address.
During his Friday press conference, the Defence Minister said China currently had the largest navy in the world with close to 355 ships and submarines.
The global superpower has amassed more than 2,000 ground-launch ballistic missiles and ground-launch cruise missiles with a range of up to 5,500km according to government data.
Government’s war rhetoric not ‘useful or wise’
Mr Dutton said every major city in Australia was within range of Chinese missiles which were expected to hit between 700 and 1,000 warheads in the next 10 years.
“Today, we face the most significant change in our strategic environment since the Second World War,” he said.
“The times in which we live have echoes of the 1930s. The world would be foolish to repeat the mistakes of the 1930s,” he said.
“We live in times of high tension but the region is not on an inevitable path to conflict but only if all countries of goodwill ensure together we do our utmost to steer clear of the cliff face.”

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