Former top Australian military commander talks of possibility of full-scale war with China

Here in Canada, Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole hasn't gone that far, but he is calling for a harder line against Beijing

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      Tensions between Australia and China have been sharply escalating in recent years. And now, an adviser to the Australian Defence Force is warning of a "high likelihood" of actual conflict, according to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

      Maj.-Gen. Adam Findlay reportedly made the comment in a briefing last year to his country's special forces soldiers.

      Findlay made the remarks while serving as special operations commander Australia before his term ended last November.

      Meanwhile, Australia's defence minister, Peter Dutton, recently declared that his country was "already under attack" from foreign computer hackers.

      Dutton told the Sydney Morning Herald that Australia's military forces needed to be prepared for action.

      In the past, he's also raised the prospect of a conflict between China and the United States over Taiwan, which would require Australia to cho0se whether to participate.

      Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole served for a decade in the Canadian Armed Forces.

      Canadian Conservative leader also talks tough

      In Canada, Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has condemned the Trudeau government for not taking a sufficiently hard line against China.

      "Intellectual property theft, counterfeiting and digital piracy are not exceptions to our dealings with China," O'Toole wrote in the National Post last year. "They are the reality. I saw this firsthand fighting against Chinese intellectual property abuse a decade ago. It is high time our government and corporate leaders realized that things are getting worse and not better."

      O'Toole, a former captain in the Canadian Armed Forces, also alleged that Canadians of Chinese origin "have been threatened by foreign agents in our country". In addition, he declared that anti-Hong Kong protests were staged in Canada "to bully democracy activists".

      "Uighur students in our universities have been intimidated and deplatformed in co-ordinated actions led by Chinese consulates across our country," O'Toole continued. "And the very values we hold dear, like openness, justice and tolerance, have been weaponized against us.

      "When a dictatorship starts having so much influence that protecting Canadian citizens on Canadian soil is now a question open for debate, you know you have a problem."

      Then O'Toole wrote positively about how our "Australian friends, with far more at risk in bilateral trade, have tackled the Chinese threat to their institutions headfirst". He also praised Canada's "British allies" for banning Huawei from 5G networks and U.S. president Joe Biden for leading a "realignment of democracies so that we may unite in confronting the geopolitical challenge of our times".

      "It is time for Canada to once more stand on the right side of history," O'Toole wrote in his concluding paragraph. "It is time for us to stand for freedom — for the two Michaels, for our country and for the future of the democratic world."

      China's last armed conflict  with another country was a border skirmish with Vietnam in 1979. It also fought a war with India in 1962.

      A Chinese military honour guard marched in front of the U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when he visited Beijing in 2007.

      China has biggest army

      The People's Liberation Army has two million active personnel and another 510,000 reservists. That makes it the largest military force in the world.

      In contrast, Australia has 57,200 active personnel and 21,050 reservists. Canada has 67,400 active personnel and 35,600 reservists. And the United States has nearly 1.4 million active personnel and 850,000 reservists.

      The U.S. outspends China on the military by nearly three times.

      Historically when wars have been fought, people who traced their ethnic origin to the country of the enemy faced severe repression from the Canadian government, even if they were born in Canada.

      So if war broke out between western countries and China, people of Chinese ancestry in Canada should prepare for the possibility of something similar occurring to them.

      In the First World War, immigrants from the Austro-Hungarian, German, and Ottoman empires and Canadian-born and naturalized subjects were interned. They included many who traced their ancestry back to Ukraine.

      In the Second World War, Japanese Canadians and Italian Canadians were interned. Assets were seized in both wars.

      For more information on that, watch the videos below.

      Video: "The Surprising Story of Canada's Enemy Aliens" details how those of Eastern European ancestry were interned during the First World War.
      Video: David Suzuki tells the story of the internment of 22,000 Japanese Canadians in B.C. in the Second World War.
      Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promises a formal apolog this month for the internment of Italian Canadians.