South China Sea: Military conflict to happen sooner rather than later as countries armed

South China Sea: Expert discusses tensions

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China has showcased increasingly hostile behaviour towards Taiwan, with whom tensions have been high since the creation of the Republic of China in 1949. Beijing has repeatedly complained about United States Navy ships getting close to islands it occupies in the South China Sea, where Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan all also have competing claims. Senator Molan has said while conflict is not inevitable, countries are armed and ready.

Speaking to Sky News Australia, Mr Molan said: “There is a concern it might happen sooner rather than later.

“For example, I say that such a scenario is certainly possible because everyone is armed.

“I say that it’s likely because not only are people armed but certain parties particularly China have been very aggressive and are arming themselves even more.

“But I don’t say it’s inevitable and that’s very important. We’ve got to remain positive in this.”

Broadcaster Andrew Neil explained the Chinese Navy has been building up off the coast of Taiwan.

Speaking on ITV’s This Morning, Mr Neil said: “As we talk the Chinese Navy is involved in a massive build-up off the coast of Taiwan.

“It could invade there in the next three or four years, sparking a global crisis.”

In recent months, Taiwan has complained of repeated Chinese air force activity near the islands, which Taiwan’s Coast Guard only lightly defends though there are periodic deployments of marines. There is no permanent civilian population, only occasional visiting scientists.

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In October, Hong Kong air traffic controllers warned off a Taiwanese civilian flight flying to the Pratas on a routine weekly supply run, forcing it to turn back.

The Pratas, the closest Taiwan-controlled territory to Hong Kong, have also taken on extra significance since anti-government protests began in the Chinese-run city.

Taiwan has intercepted at least one boat close to the Pratas carrying people fleeing from Hong Kong trying to make their way to Taiwan.

Taiwan’s other main South China Sea island is Itu Aba, also known as Taiping Island, which is part of the Spratly archipelago.

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Lee said they have not spotted Chinese drones there.

China sent more fighter jets into Taiwan’s air defence zone on Wednesday in a stepped-up show of force around the island Beijing claims as its own, and Taiwan’s foreign minister said it would fight to the end if China attacks.

The democratic self-governed island has complained of repeated military activities by Beijing in recent months, with China’s air force making almost daily forays in Taiwan’s air defence identification zone. On Monday, China said an aircraft carrier group was exercising close to the island.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said 15 Chinese aircraft including 12 fighters entered its air defence identification zone, with an anti-submarine aircraft flying to the south through the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines.

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