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In light of China’s saber-rattling about Taiwan, Australia should be prepared for conflict in the South China Sea.
China is increasingly capable of disrupting Australia’s exports and imports because of its growing navy and air force, as well as its bases throughout the region.
Our dependence on liquid fuels imported via South China Sea shipping routes is of particular concern. Due to the closing of all but two local refineries, this reliance has grown more pronounced over the past few decades. Even though we export crude oil, we import 90% of refined fuels.
The Department of Defence commissioned our research team to analyze threats to Australia’s maritime supply chains in the Indo-Pacific region (the South China Sea and East China Sea).
Approximately 90% of refined fuel imports come from South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei, and Vietnam, if a major conflict occurs.
While the routes between these countries and Australia do not pass through the South China Sea, most of the crude oil they import to produce that refined fuel does.
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