Multi-million expansion of Australian military bases in signal to China

Chinese and Taiwanese national flags are displayed alongside military airplanes in this illustration taken

Pezzullo sent out the message to mark Anzac Day, which honors Australia's veterans.

Australian defence minister Peter Dutton raised the prospect of conflict between China and Taiwan in his own comments on Anzac Day.

"People need to be realistic about the activity", Dutton said.

Australian officials and lawmakers were split on Pezzullo and Dutton's comments amid rising tensions with Beijing.

Wang stressed at a daily news briefing that abiding by the one-China principle is an inherent requirement of developing China-Australia relations, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory.

The Chinese Embassy in Australia responded shortly, expressing "strong displeasure and resolute opposition" to the politician's announcement.

Mike Pezzullo said Australia must strive for peace, but not at the cost of its liberty.

The Hainan is China's first Type 075 amphibious assault ship, while the Changzheng-18 is a nuclear-powered submarine and the Dalian a Type 055 destroyer, the Communist Party-backed Global Times reported, citing military analysts.

"I am not sure our senior public servants should be using that language because I am not sure what that actually helps, except cause more anxiety".

Previously, the Defence Minister said war with China over Taiwan "should not be discounted".

At the same time, China has aggressively ramped up its military activity in the South China Sea and over Taiwanese air space.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said he hoped Australia was aware of the sensitive nature of the issue and could "avoid sending any wrong signal to Taiwan independence forces".

Last year, a rift between the two nations was deepened as Australia called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

The increasingly bellicose Australian rhetoric is far removed from the position being taken by New Zealand, which has distanced itself from the other members of the Five Eyes intelligence agreement over their criticism of China.

Australia last week provoked an angry response from Beijing by cancelling two Chinese Belt and Road Initiative infrastructure deals with the Victoria state government on national interest grounds.

Beijing's military buildup, combined with moves to fortify its hold on disputed territory in the South China Sea, has raised fears that it could look to deny the US military access to waters off China's coastline.

"We're obviously very conscious as a government of what is happening in the Pacific region, in particular, and we will always put Australia first, second and third".

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