Ascertaining Beijing’s intent is difficult but past practice provides us with some valuable clues.

As the dust settles on the most consequential month of Australian defence and foreign policy in 70 years, Scott Morrison has signalled unequivocally that he wants a more lethal, capable and agile defence force fit for the times. And he’s not for turning.

Neither is Defence Minister Peter Dutton, who has been given the poisoned chalice of sorting out the procurement mess left by previous Coalition and Labor governments. Dutton is off to a good start. But there is much to do and time is of the essence.

The provocative incursions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone by waves of Chinese fighter jets and bombers over the past week suggests that President Xi Jinping may not wait much longer to achieve his cherished dream of reclaiming Taiwan into the bosom of the motherland. The trilateral AUKUS agreement will have left him in no doubt that Australia has chosen the US over China although his coercive practices are largely to blame.

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