Beijing may decide to kill Australians or Americans in an attempt to deter conflict with the West due to cultural misperceptions, warned a new report.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute report, "To deter the PRC", claimed that a heavy pivot to Middle East expertise in the last two decades has robbed Australia and its allies of sufficient understanding of how China views offensive deterrence.
"In an effort to deter the U.S., Australia or their allies, the PRC may conduct strikes on our assets. Put another way, the PRC may kill Americans or Australians in an attempt to deter," wrote Lieutenant Colonel Kyle Marcrum and Dr Brendan Mulvaney.
"That wouldn't have the deterrent effect that the PRC seeks or expects, and the risks of escalation from such a deterrent effort are extremely high."
The report, published Thursday, states the PRC may strike without the intent to spiral into a war, with military philosophy published by the People's Liberation Army describing limited strikes as warning signals that may deter the US and its partners and allies.
They also cautioned that China does not perceive military deterrence as any less hostile than coercion, limiting the range of proportional responses available to the West.
It comes as a new poll found for the first time, more Australians believed the China was a threat than an economic partner to the nation.
The Lowy Institute's latest annual foreign affairs survey found attitudes had hardened, and most Australians would want their nation to remain neutral in a conflict between the United States and China.
Nearly two thirds of respondents in the think tank's poll said they viewed China as a security threat, up more than 20 points from 41 per cent last year.
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