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Australia seeks 'stronger' defenses as tensions rise in Taiwan

Australia says its defenses must be "as strong as possible" as China intensifies military exercises near Taiwan. increase.

On Tuesday, Australian Defense Minister and Acting Prime Minister Richard Maruls said Beijing's military buildup was "very" concerning and shaping the strategic landscape in the region.

Tensions have risen since U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan last week.

In response, Beijing launched exercises in the Taiwan Strait, It deployed jets and warships and launched several ballistic missiles.

Marles said China's military activities were a "serious" concern.

Over the weekend, Australia joined the US and Japan in denouncing escalating tensions. But Beijing claimed it was a "victim" of diplomatic bullying.

Last week Australia announced a review of its military capabilities for the next decade.

Marles told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that China's growing assertiveness poses a major security and political challenge to the Canberra government and its allies.

"This is the biggest fact that shapes our region, and perhaps the world's strategic environment," he said. “This is certainly one of the key factors in shaping Australia's strategic landscape, and that is why we need to build the most capable and strong defense force possible. Please protect it.”

Australia has one China policy that does not support Taiwan independence. Officials said Canberra does not support "unilateral actions on either side of the Taiwan Strait that would change the status quo".

Tensions over Taiwan join a long list of controversies and grievances that have shaken relations with Australia, its largest trading partner.

There were allegations of Chinese interference in Australian affairs, concerns about Hong Kong's democracy, and Beijing's ambitions in the South China Sea and Pacific. The two sides also clashed over Canberra's call for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19, which was first detected in China.

He said he was trying to punish Canberra.

Beijing accuses Australia of creating "anti-China" hysteria.

The recently elected Labor government in Canberra has said it is on a mission to mend its divided ties with China, but experts say tensions over Taiwan make it a delicate process.