Smith quizzes officials on secret chapter

Defence Minister Stephen Smith has quizzed officials about the existence of a secret chapter in the 2009 Defence White Paper that reportedly contemplates war with China.

A new book by journalist David Uren claims the paper detailed a plan to fight a war with China, in which the navy’s submarines would help blockade its trade routes.

Mr Smith maintains no such chapter exists.

He said in the past few days he had spoken about the allegations to the chief of the defence force, the department’s secretary, senior officials who prepared the force posture review and those involved in the classified assessments that supported the white paper.

“Those officials have confirmed to me that the suggestion asserted by the newspaper reports surrounding Mr Uren’s book have no basis in fact,” Mr Smith told ABC television on Wednesday.

He said the story was “a nonsense” but that Mr Uren was “perfectly entitled to publish” his book.

Mr Smith was asked about reports of the secret chapter by members of a Chinese strategic studies institute after he addressed the organisation in Beijing on Wednesday.

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