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Australia planning to deploy new missile systems amid China-Taiwan tensions: Report

The StrikeMaster land-based anti-ship missile launcher mounted on Thales Australia Bushmaster (file photo)

The Australian government has been planning to deploy a new missile system amid strains in relations between the West and China over Chinese Taipei.

Australian media cited the Defense Ministry as saying that Canberra was presumably considering the possibility of deploying the new weapons systems in the country's northern coast, according to reporting by Sputnik on Tuesday.

The report said Canberra had been reviewing the StrikeMaster land-based maritime strike system and the Naval Strike Missile anti-ship and land-attack armament as potential variants for enhancing its military's missiles systems.

"This [StrikeMaster] is something you put on an island or in northern Australia and it will provide significant coverage. It requires only a few personnel; the effect generated is persistent, and the launcher is difficult to find," John Fry, the general manager at the Kongsberg Defence Australia international technology group headquartered in Norway, was quoted as saying by the Australian media.

The report added that Australia had "lagged for years" in obtaining mobile missile launchers and aimed to make up for it as Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Richard Marles called for new weapons systems to confront an adversary "much further" from Australian shores.

Earlier this year, the Australian government approved a $2.6-billion plan to accelerate the acquisition of advanced US strike capabilities as part of a major weapons upgrade for the country's armed forces.

The move came amid heightened tensions between Canberra and Beijing in the Indo-Pacific region.

Canberra has voiced fears of the possibility that China could establish a military base on Solomon Islands, which would put the Pacific island within Beijing's domain of control.

Situated in Oceania, the Solomon Islands is a sovereign country consisting of six major islands and more than 900 smaller ones. The island chain, home to 800,000 people, was engulfed in unrest and riots in November 2021, almost a year after it decided to end diplomatic ties with Chinese Taipei and establish formal links with China.

China has sovereignty over Chinese Taipei, and under the "One China" policy, almost all world countries recognize that sovereignty. The US, too, recognizes Chinese sovereignty over the island but has long courted Taipei in an attempt to unnerve Beijing.

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