Two-Thirds of Australia Under Beijing’s Missile Threat: Report
PHOTO: Chinese structures and buildings at the man-made island on Johnson reef at the Spratlys group of islands in the South China Sea (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
By Cindy Zhan
Two-thirds of Australia could be at risk from Beijing’s land-based missiles, according to a submission to the national Defence Strategic Review.
The 33-page submission, prepared by former analysts at Defence Department and the U.S.-based Rand Corporation, includes a map showing Australia’s vulnerability to potential strikes from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), The Daily Telegraph reported.
The militarization of artificial reefs and atolls in the disputed South China Sea will give the Chinese army the potential capability to launch “land-based DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile strikes.”
The CCP’s militarized Mischief Reef atoll, which is 3000km northwest of Darwin, is of particular concern as it creates a “ring range” over key Australian Defence Force (ADF) installations in the Northern Territory, Townsville in Queensland, and northern Western Australia, especially the joint Australian-U.S. Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt.
MAP: China’s “9-dash line” claims in the South China Sea. (United States Central Intelligence Agency)
The analysis suggests that Australia’s future military bases, stockpiles, and fuel reserves should be moved further south.
Security analysts have long been warning about the CCP’s military buildup in the South China Sea.
“China has expanded its ability to conduct military operations about 1,500 miles farther offshore from China, so now China can reach down to Australia, well into the Southwest Pacific, and off into the Central Pacific. And from these bases, it can cause the Americans and America’s friends all sorts of problems,” Grant Newsham, a senior fellow at the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies, told Epoch TV’s “Forbidden News” program in April.
The Defence Strategic Review was announced by Australia’s Defence Minister Richard Marles in August and led by former Australian Defence Force Chief Sir Angus Houston and former Defence Minister Prof. Stephen Smith.
It was designed to “help Defence to better understand where it should prioritise investment” to “ensure the Australian Defence Force is well positioned to meet the nation’s security challenges through to 2033 and beyond.”
The news comes at a time when Defence Minister Marles travelled to Washington this week for AUKUS talks with his American and British counterparts.
In October, U.S. intelligence confirmed that Mischief Reef had been militarized and that Guam and United States’ “second island chain” targeting the CCP was under threat. The issue is expected to be a major topic of high-level talks among the three countries.
Mars said the meeting, which takes place in the “most complex and precarious set of strategic circumstances,” would push forward the AUKUS agenda, create opportunities to build the ADF’s strength and integrate the supply chains of the three countries.
“We must invest in capabilities that enable us to hold potential adversaries’ forces at risk at a greater distance and increase the cost of aggression against Australia and its interests,” he said.
The report will be submitted to the government by February 2023 and released to the public in March.