Sky News Australia host Andrew Bolt has warned China “is watching Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” amid concern Beijing may be emboldened to invade the island of Taiwan if the West showcase weakness in the face of Vladimir Putin. Xi Jinping and the Chinese military have believed to be plotting a move to annex Taiwan, a democratic enclave that the Chinese Communist Party views as a rightful part of China.
Bolt told Sky News Australia: “Let’s not forget, you might think this is all a long way away from us, so what a country you’ve probably never heard of before, who cares?
“But Russia’s main ally China is watching all this, and it’s working out how strong is the West really?
“How strong is their will to fight, they talk big on Ukraine but will they crumble, and I think they might, will they crumble in supporting Ukraine.
“Because China actually has war in its mind, too.”
The United States and China are expected to trade blows over everything from Taiwan’s sovereignty to the war in Ukraine at Asia’s upcoming top security meeting.
The Shangri-La Dialogue, which attracts top-level military officials, diplomats and weapons makers from around the globe, will take place June 10-12 in Singapore, the first time the event has been held since 2019 after it was postponed twice because of Covid.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky will address the meeting in a virtual session on Saturday, organisers said.
On the sidelines of the summit, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chinese Minister of National Defence General Wei Fenghe are expected to hold their first face-to-face meeting since President Joe Biden took office.
Austin and Wei are likely to then use speeches over the weekend to re-affirm their commitment to the Asia-Pacific region, while delivering some pointed remarks in the direction of the other.
Relations between China and the United States have been tense in recent months, with the world’s two largest economies clashing over everything from Chinese belligerence towards Taiwan, its military activity in the South China Sea and Beijing’s attempts to expand influence in the Pacific region.
“The key issue this year is inevitably going to be the US-China competitive relationship,” said Meia Nouwens, Senior Fellow for Chinese Defence Policy and Military Modernisation at The International Institute for Strategic Studies, the think tank that organises the event.
“There’s a new sense of urgency with regards to the People’s Liberation Army’s ongoing modernisation and the assertiveness that we’ve seen from China in the last two years.”