China: “I think we need to be prepared to think the unthinkable,”, says former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott​

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Friday he thinks China could invade Taiwan “soon”, or otherwise escalate the situation. “I think we need to be prepared to think the unthinkable,” he said.

“I think it’s highly possible that at some point in time, perhaps quite soon, China might up the ante, either with a blockade of the so-called rebel province ― to teach the Taiwanese that they need to make some kind of an accommodation with Beijing ― or perhaps even a full-scale invasion,” he added.

Abbott sees Chinese leader Xi Jinping as emboldened by the West’s mild reaction to China’s takeover of Hong Kong. Unlike Hong Kong, Taiwan would offer military resistance, but it would still need outside backing, he said.

“In the absence of support from others, the Taiwanese might regard it as an unequal and ultimately hopeless struggle. And that’s why I think it’s important for Taiwan’s fellow democracies to provide all the solidarity that we can,” Abbott said, adding the West should now be planning its military and economic responses.

Abbott reiterated previous calls for Australia to take over one or more retiring U.S. Los Angeles-class or U.K. Trafalgar-class submarines soon because the new nuclear-powered subs won’t arrive for years. The nuclear-powered submarines he’s proposing for the interim would augment the Collins-class submarines in Australia’s inventory, he said.

“We need better, bigger, faster more wide-ranging submarines not in two decades time but now,” he said, adding that “the challenges are pressing, the peril is not far off.”

Astute

Both the U.K. and France have dispatched carrier groups to the region, and the Royal Navy's HMS Astute submarine visited Perth on Friday (pictured). Abbott said he hopes the U.K. will send more naval assets and use Singapore’s facilities, as the U.S. Navy does.

“I think it’s very important for Britain and France, which have long had a Pacific presence, to increase that Pacific presence, given that east Asia is probably now the most strategically important part of the world,” he said.

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