Australian defence minister Peter Dutton warned war with China is possible and his country should prepare
Said China and US have made their positions over Taiwan 'clear' and risk of fighting 'shouldn't be discounted'
Comes after country signed historic AUKUS pact with America and Britain to acquire nuclear-powered subs
Beijing has fumed at the new alliance, with state newspaper warning Australia could be targeted with nukes
Boris Johnson was asked whether pact could drag Britain into any fighting, and refused to rule anything out
France has recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia in protest over a UK and US submarine pact as officials have admitted war with China over Taiwan is possible and Britain could even be dragged into the conflict.
Australia's defence minister Peter Dutton, speaking from Washington where he is meeting with US officials, insisted that the new alliance - which will give Australia at least eight nuclear submarines and other advanced military technology - was about securing 'peace' in the region but the odds of a conflict with China 'shouldn't be discounted'.ADVERTISEMENTi-amphtml-sizer">
'The Chinese.. are very clear of their intent with regard to Taiwan [and] the United States has been very clear of their intention toward Taiwan,' he said. 'Nobody wants to see conflict but that really is a question for the Chinese.'template type="amp-mustache"">>/amp-minute-media-player">>
President Xi Jinping has vowed to 'reunify' Taiwan with China in the near future, and in 2019 said he will use force if necessary. Meanwhile Joe Biden recently vowed to defend the island if it is attacked - though officials later said he 'misspoke' and that America's long-standing policy of 'strategic ambiguity' remains in place.
Mr Dutton issued the grim warning as Beijing continues to fume over the submarine pact - dubbed AUKUS - with state newspapers penning furious columns while unnamed military sources warned the deployment of nuclear-powered subs could make Australia the target of a nuclear strike.
Meanwhile Boris Johnson was forced to defend Britain's involvement in the alliance amid fears the UK could now be dragged into fighting in the South China Sea. The Prime Minister refusing to rule anything out, telling the House of Commons: 'The United Kingdom remains determined to defend international law.'
Underlining the immediacy of the threat, Taiwan said its air force was today scrambled to warn away Chinese jets - including eight fighters and two support aircraft - that had strayed into its airspace.
Furious EU complains that it was 'not consulted' on AUKUS submarine deal
The EU has complained that it was 'not consulted' on the AUKUS submarine deal while France has lashed out at Australia for 'stabbing it in the back'.
Josep Borrell, the EU's high representative for foreign affairs, said the union was only made aware of the new alliance through the media.
And French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has accused the Australians of a betrayal because the alliance meant they scrapped a multi-billion deal for France to provide subs.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace insisted Britain did not 'go fishing' for the pact to provide nuclear-powered submarines to Australia with the US after France called it a 'stab in the back'.
The UK, US and Australia agreed to co-operate on the development of the first nuclear-powered fleet for the Australian navy in a ground-breaking agreement dubbed AUKUS.
But this meant that Canberra ripped up a deal worth around £30billion that was struck with Paris in 2016 for France to provide 12 diesel-electric submarines.
A diplomatic row broke out, with Mr Le Drian telling France-Info radio: 'It was really a stab in the back.
'We built a relationship of trust with Australia, and this trust was betrayed.'
Meanwhile Mr Borrell, ex-President of the European Parliament, said: 'This alliance we have only just been made aware and we weren't even consulted.
'As high representative for security, I was not aware and I assume that an agreement of such a nature wasn't just brought together over night. I think it would have been worked on for quite a while.'
He added: 'We regret not having been informed – not having been part of these talks. We weren't included, we weren't part and parcel of this.'
Mr Wallace said he recognises the 'frustration' from France after speaking to his French counterpart Florence Parly on Wednesday night.
He told BBC Breakfast: 'I understand France's disappointment.
'They had a contract with the Australians for diesel-electrics from 2016 and the Australians have taken this decision that they want to make a change.
'We didn't go fishing for that, but as a close ally when the Australians approached us of course we would consider it. I understand France's frustration about it.'
Boris Johnson told MPs today that the UK's military relationship with France is 'rock solid' and insisted 'we stand shoulder to shoulder with the French' despite the row.
The Prime Minister met with his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, and US President Joe Biden at the G7 summit in Cornwall in June.
Downing Street confirmed that the three leaders discussed the subs at the meeting.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman added: 'I wouldn't say there was one single meeting that did it, this has been something that has been an undertaking of several months, it's a culmination of that work.'
Combat aircraft were sent to drive away the Chinese jets, Taiwan's Defence Ministry said, while missile systems were also deployed to monitor them.ADVERTISEMENTi-amphtml-sizer">
Self-governing Taiwan, which is home to the remnants of the Republic of China which fought against the Communist Party when it first emerged, views itself as an independent state while Beijing views it as a breakaway province. It has long-standing ties with the US, which historically recognised it as the legitimate government.
The island's government has complained for a year of repeated missions by China's air force near its borders, often in the southwestern part of its air defense zone close to the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands.
The incident came a day after Taiwan proposed extra defense spending of $9billion over the next five years, including on new missiles, warning of an urgent need to upgrade weapons in the face of a 'severe threat'.
Speaking earlier on Friday, Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang said the government had to take the threat from China seriously. 'The Chinese Communists plot against us constantly,' he said.
Taiwan's defense spending 'is based on safeguarding national sovereignty, national security, and national security. We must not relax. We must have the best preparations so that no war will occur,' he added.
China's government, for its part, criticized Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu on Friday for comments this week in which he said Taiwan was a 'sea fortress' blocking China's expansion into the Pacific.
Wu's 'aim is to deceive public opinion, to rope in and collude with anti-China foreign forces,' China's Taiwan Affairs Office said in statement.
Tensions have been simmering in the South China Sea - a strategic body of water located between China, Vietnam, and the Philippines - for years, but have been brought to a head recently because of Beijing's increasingly aggressive posturing.ADVERTISEMENTi-amphtml-sizer">
President Xi lays claim to the body of water in its entirety, which would had him control over valuable shipping lanes, oil and gas deposits, and fertile fishing grounds which provide a large source of food in the region.
But the Philippines, Brunei and Vietnam also lay partial claim to the waters and have been supported by the US and other western powers who are keen to deny Beijing control over the strategic asset.
In violation of international law, China has been building military bases on artificial islands - including the Spratly and Paracel Islands - and warning other nations to keep away from them.
America and Britain have been sailing what they called 'freedom of navigation' operations near the bases, arguing they are necessary to keep the waterways open for all nations to use - much to the ire of Beijing.
Australia acquiring nuclear submarines - which can sail much further than traditional subs and conceal themselves easier - will potentially allow the country to join such missions or else covertly spy on what China is doing, which is why the pact has so infuriated Beijing.
The backlash marks a new low in relations between Australia and China - the country's largest trading partner - which were already at rock-bottom following calls from Canberra for a probe into Covid's origins.
China reacted by cutting off all diplomatic contact with Australia and has since engaged in a trade war, whacking tariffs on Australian goods that are thought to have cost the country $2.6billion annually.
But the war of words could now spiral into all-out conflict with China's Global Times news website - a mouthpiece for the communist government - warning of the possibility of a nuclear strike on Australia.
The article cited an anonymous 'senior Chinese military expert' who said Australia would pose a nuclear threat to other countries because the new submarines could potentially be fitted with nuclear weapons provided by the US or UK.
'This would make Australia a potential target for a nuclear strike, because nuclear-armed states like China and Russia are directly facing the threat from Australia's nuclear submarines which serve US strategic demands,' the expert said.
'Beijing and Moscow won't treat Canberra as ''an innocent non-nuclear power,'' but 'a US ally which could be armed with nuclear weapons anytime,' the expert added.
Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10002783/amp/France-recalls-Australian-ambassadors-protest-UKUS-submarine-pact.html1932