Australia Should Take Beijing to the United Nations Over Taiwan: Diplomacy Expert

April 6, 2021 Updated: April 6, 2021

The Australian government should take the Taiwan issue to the United Nations for a vote as a circuit breaker to smother any potential military conflict in the Taiwan Strait, according to a diplomacy expert.

“I think Australia could lead the charge to call Beijing’s bluff by bringing the issue before the United Nations,” Joseph Siracusa, adjunct professor of the political history of international diplomacy at Curtin University, says.

“This could be done early in a conflict, or on the cusp of a conflict, or it can be done tomorrow,” he told The Epoch Times.

“That’s where Australia’s greatest strength is. Then if the West wins the case, led by Australia, then the whole world would be obliged to support Taiwan in case of the Chinese invasion,” he added.

The move would trigger a paradigm shift away from costly militarisation in the East China Sea and towards a diplomatic platform, potentially catching Beijing on the backfoot.

Epoch Times Photo
Two 8-inch self-propelled artillery guns were fired during the 35th “Han Kuang” military drill in southern Taiwan’s Pingtung county on May 30, 2019. (Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images)

However, Mark Beeson, professor of international politics at the University of Western Australia, said going to the U.N. was risky, as it would depend on whether governments around the world had the appetite to anger Beijing.

“Everybody is very reliant on China economically, so it could be quite difficult for people to strike attitudes about imposing sanctions,” he told The Epoch Times.

“The best you can do is just to try and put international pressure on China and to make them respond to peer pressure,” he added.

The Epoch Times reached out to the Department of Foreign Affairs but did not receive a comment in time for publication.

Bringing a vote to the U.N. General Assembly would emulate Australia’s efforts last year as the first nation in the world to call for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, on Sept. 25, 2019. (Reuters/Carlo Allegri)

The move sparked a veiled threat from the Chinese ambassador to Canberra Cheng Jingye, who said Australia’s trade relationship with China would be at risk.

China followed up on its threat by pursuing an eight-month-long campaign of economic coercion that targeted key Australian export industries, including coal, beef, wine, barley, lobster, timber, lamb, and cotton.

However, despite the economic pressure and China being Australia’s largest trading partner, the Morrison government has remained firm, rolling out a series of measures to shore up its national security and diversify its trade relationships.

The U.N. vote subsequently succeeded in May, with over 116 nations globally supporting the investigation, forcing Beijing to back down on this particular matter.

The Australian government has already taken China to the World Trade Organization (WTO) over tariffs slapped on barley exports to the country. China meanwhile has instigated a complaints process against Australia at the Human Rights Council.

Over the past year, Beijing has upped its hostile rhetoric toward Taiwan since the reelection of President Tsai Ing-wen.

Epoch Times Photo
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen (C) listens while inspecting military troops in Tainan, southern Taiwan, on Jan. 15, 2021. (Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images)

Chinese military jets have also made near-daily incursions into Taiwanese airspace more recently, with the largest being in late March, when 20 Chinese military planes entered Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone.

Beijing sees Taiwan as its own territory, even though the island has been governed as a distinct territory for more than seven decades. The communist regime has vowed to bring Taiwan into the fold—by force if necessary.

The U.S. embassy’s second-highest-ranking diplomat in Australia, Michael Goldman, revealed in a podcast hosted by The Australian National University (ANU) that Australia and the United States were working on “contingencies” around a potential outbreak of conflict over Taiwan.

“I think we’re committed as allies to working together, not only in making our militaries interoperable and functioning well together but also in strategic planning,” the charge d’affaires said.

“And when you look at strategic planning, it covers the range of contingencies that you’ve mentioned, of which Taiwan is obviously an important component.”