New $1.35 billion package to help protect Australia against malicious cyber attacks

Scott Morrison to outline bolstered defence spending

Australia sees China as the chief suspect, three sources told Reuters.

While Morrison avoided directly linking Australia's defense budget to the growing threat from China, he named several regions where Beijing has become embroiled in territorial disputes: on its Himalayan border with India, and in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

"Australia is concerned by the potential for actions, such as the establishment of military bases, which could undermine stability in the Indo-Pacific and our immediate region", it says.

Scott Morrison, the Australian prime minister, laid out plans to buy longer-range missiles, beef up cyber warfare and increase the focus on Australia's regional neighbourhood, while evoking "very haunting" parallels with the economic trauma and uncertainty of the 1930s and 1940s.

The Government's 2020 Defence Strategy Update to be released on Wednesday outlines the $270 billion over a decade, which is up from the $195 billion outlaid in the last Defence White Paper in 2016.

"The government has accepted that the Australian military needs to be able to attempt to deter armed conflict through its capabilities and to be able to fight in our region if we have to", he added. The weapon is a significant upgrade from Australia's current AGM-84 air-launched Harpoon anti-ship missile, which was introduced in the early 1980s. It has a range of 124 kilometres, while the missile being purchased can exceed 370 kilometres.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will reveal details of the military package on Wednesday
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will reveal details of the military package on Wednesday

A further $65 billion will go towards air defence, including $17 billion for new fighter aircraft and up to $9.3 billion on developing hypersonic weapons.

That year, Canberra also said Beijing's "meddling" was a catalyst for legislation created to halt foreign interference in its governments, media and education sector.

Morrison committed on Wednesday to spending about $800m on the purchase of anti-ship cruise missiles from the USA navy, which have a range of 370km and will initially be used on F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft.

The US, Russia and China have been in a race to develop the hi-tech weapons, which can travel at least five times the speed of sound and are nearly impossible to intercept.

The announcement comes as Australia's relationship with China, its most important trading partner, is under extraordinary strain over Australian calls for an independent investigation of the pandemic.

Lijian said that the charges of espionage and interference against China were not based on "solid evidence" while emphasizing that "irrefutable evidence abound to prove Australia's operation of spying activities in China", without providing further details. "But we can not allow such consideration of contingencies to drive our force structure to the detriment of ensuring we have credible capability to respond to any challenge in our immediate region". "That is why we need to ensure that our deterrence capabilities play to our strengths".


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