'Increased risk': China warns of war after 'threatening' US move

Beijing has a stern message for Washington after it pledged significant financial backing for Taiwan.

China has warned the US there is an increased risk of "military confrontation" after introducing a new defence authorisation law which will see significant financial backing for Taiwan's military.

Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, spokesperson for China's Ministry of National Defence, said Beijing "firmly opposes" the move and branded the US a "direct threat" in the region.

"These moves only seriously jeopardise the peace and stability in Taiwan Straits and increase the risk of China-US military confrontation," he said on Saturday. "The Chinese People's Liberation Army will, as always, be ready to resolutely safeguard national reunification and territorial integrity of the country."

Chinese soldiers train in the snow in Guizhou.
China has ramped up its military expenditure in recent years. Source: Getty

The $858 billion (A$1.2 trillion) military spending measure from the US authorises up to $10 billion (A$14 billion) in security assistance and fast-tracked weapons procurement for Taiwan.

China rejects Taiwan's desire to become an independent nation, with Beijing claiming the democratically governed island as part of its own territory. The Chinese Communist Party has no tolerance for any outside interference in what it calls an "internal" matter.

China's foreign ministry has accused the US and previously the then Morrison government of unnecessarily exaggerating China's threat in the region. However Beijing has suggested it will forcefully reunify Taiwan with the mainland if it needs to.

Australia under the spotlight as relations improve

The downturn in Sino-US relations puts Australia in a tricky position, with relations with China back on the right path, however Canberra remains a strong ally of Washington alongside fellow Quad members Japan and India.

Earlier this month Prime Minister Anthony Albanese distanced himself from a delegation of federal MPs who visited Taiwan to meet with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong met with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi this week, who noted Senator Wong expressed Australia's commitment to the one-China policy.

Taiwan's Defence Ministry has expressed its thanks for the US legislation, saying it showed the importance Washington attached to Taiwan-US ties and strengthening the island's security.

Taiwan's military is dwarfed by that of its huge neighbour China. Its air force in particular has come under strain from having to scramble repeatedly to see off Chinese incursions near the island over the past three years or so.

With Reuters

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