Jim Molan’s ‘surprise China attack’ fear
By BEN PACKHAM – FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND DEFENCE CORRESPONDENT
Former senator Jim Molan, in his final interview before his death, said he feared China would launch a surprise missile attack on American forces in the western Pacific in order to take Taiwan, leaving the US unable to respond and Australia as collateral damage.
The former army major general, who died last month, told Sky News in a documentary to air on Wednesday night that if Taiwan fell, it would be a case of “who’s next?”.
He said Australia was at risk of becoming a Chinese “tributary state”, along with Japan, South Korea and much of Southeast Asia.
Molan, who served as chief of operations for US-led coalition forces in Iraq, told Sky News journalist Peter Stefanovic that he welcomed the Albanese government’s engagement with China but warned Australia needed to prepare for war.
“We’ve got a time period now where we must prepare for the worst case. Talk to China, be sensible, be good, but prepare for the worst case,” Molan told Stefanovic for the Sky documentary, Are We Ready for War?
“The option that I favour (as the most likely) is a surprise missile attack on American forces in the western Pacific.
“We can make some contributions to an American force, but if the Chinese are half smart, and they’re more than half smart, it’ll all be over by the time we get there.”
Molan said China was not interested in directly attacking Australia but it had the capability to take out Western satellites and undersea cables as part of a Taiwan invasion scenario, which would wreak havoc with Australians’ way of life.
He said Australia needed to stop relying on the US coming to its aid when the shooting started.
“We’ve got to stand up for ourselves. We should be self-sufficient in our own military to protect ourselves and to protect the areas around us, the Indonesian archipelago and the South Pacific,” Molan said.
Taiwan’s Foreign Minister, Joseph Wu, told Sky Xi Jinping was determined to overturn the status quo and take the democratic territory by force, a move that would bring an end to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.
“China is the only country that has a motivation and the ability to change the rules-based international order and China seems to be doing that in the Pacific right now,” Mr Wu said.
But he said Taiwan didn’t expect Australians to personally join the fight to defend the territory against Chinese forces.
“Defending Taiwan is our own responsibility and we are not asking Australians to sacrifice their sons and daughters in defending Taiwan,” Mr Wu said.
“But during this period of time what we need is vocal support; (the) moral support of the Australian government.”
Leon Panetta, the US secretary of defence under Barack Obama, told Sky that Joe Biden has made it clear the US would fight to defend Taiwan, and that Australia was likely to play a role in such a conflict as “one of the best friends we have in the Pacific”.
“I am very confident that the United States and Australia will work together to determine how fast each country can contribute to whatever security mission we decide is important for both countries,” Mr Panetta said.