'Millions dead': Unsettling prediction about conflict with China

Amid recent speculation war could be on the horizon, an unsettling and stark prediction reveals the mass devastation that could result from such a scenario.

Director of the Australia-China Relations Institute at UTS, James Laurenceson, said while newly-appointed defence minister Peter Dutton may be preparing Australians for any involvement the nation will have in potential military conflict in the Indo-Pacific, there is little mention of the horrific consequences that could result.

“We’re talking millions dead, including Australians. A global economic disaster. We’ve got to raise the entire reality of what a war would actually be like," he told Crikey.

Chinese soldiers rehearse before the start of a parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China in Beijing.
China has significantly boosted its expenditure in defence in recent years. Source: AP

On Sunday Mr Dutton told the ABC the possibility of conflict could "not be discounted" as China pushes ahead with its plans to force a reunification with Taiwan. He also stressed Australian forces would be ready to act if called upon.

And secretary of the home affairs department, Mike Pezzullo, delivered an Anzac Day speech saying the "drums of war" are beating in the region, and often "more loudly" and closer than before, stressing the nation must "brace" for the "curse of war".

Last month China projected a 6.8 per cent increase in defence spending in response to "security risks in all areas", Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said.

And while China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin warned Australia about stoking potential conflict, Professor Laurenceson said such remarks from within Canberra were warranted.

“That’s a reasonable thing for them to do. The risks of conflict have risen from what they were five years ago," he said.

China warns Australia over Taiwan stance

The Morrison government has expressed concerns about Beijing's stance on Taiwan, another response the Communist Party of China deems as provocative and interference in its internal matters.

"The Taiwan question is purely China's internal affair. China will never allow any country to interfere in any way," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Friday.

Mr Wang called on Australia to think carefully about its words moving forward.

"It is hoped that the Australian side will fully recognise that the Taiwan question is highly sensitive [and it will] be prudent in its words and deeds," he said.

Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong echoed Mr Wang's remarks, warning "words matter" when it came to national security and diplomacy.

"When it comes to issues of national security, when it comes to issues of foreign policy, when it comes to issues as sensitive as Taiwan, our language should be sober and it should be cautious," she said.

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan said Mr Pezzullo's remarks were "totally unnecessary".

Yet Nationals senator Matt Canavan said there was "no doubt" there was a risk of conflict and told Sky News Australians "need a wake-up call".

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