“Five years ago, I would’ve said that the possibility was very unlikely, now I would have to say that the possibility is more likely than it was then,” he said yesterday.
Mr Pyne, who later moved to the defence portfolio and retired from politics in 2019, said the US and its allies, including Australia, were now facing an increasingly confident China in the Asia-Pacific region.
“The reality is that China is confident and capable and is not embarrassed to show it,” he said.
The former Liberal frontbencher said the Asia-Pacific risked a “real war” involving China over the next decade.
“Not a cyber war, but a real one involving loss of life, destruction of military platforms, with aggressors and defenders on different sides,” Mr Pyne said.
“This isn’t rhetoric, this is something that you and I may well have to confront in the next five to 10 years.”
Mr Pyne described China’s massive increase in military spending as he delivered the graduation oration to the University of Adelaide Law School yesterday.
“China’s military is very capable in an asymmetric war against the US and its allies around the island chains of the western Indo-Pacific and South East Asia – Australia is one of those allies,” he said.
Mr Pyne said Beijing had displayed its increasing military power in the crackdown in Hong Kong and the treatment of Uighur minorities in China.
“Most concerning of all, it has turned up pressure on Taiwan, the most likely next flashpoint in the region.”
Meanwhile, Taiwan has said 25 Chinese military aircraft entered its air defence identification zone (ADIZ) yesterday, the most on any single day so far this year.
Taiwan’s National Defence Ministry said the flights surpassed the previous high this year of 20 Chinese military planes entering the ADIZ on March 26.
Last week, China’s armed forces conducted military exercises to the west and east of Taiwan, a move analysts said was a warning to the island and the United States.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday the US stands behind its commitment to Taiwan to make sure it can defend itself as Beijing increases its aggressive tactics.
“All I can tell you is, it would be a serious mistake for anyone to try to change the existing status quo by force,” he said when asked if the US is prepared to defend Taiwan militarily.
Asked if that meant the US will respond with military force, Mr Blinken said he would not get into hypotheticals and reiterated the country’s commitment to Taiwan.
China claims Taiwan as its own territory to be won over peacefully or by force.
Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949, and most Taiwanese favour maintaining the current state of de facto independence while engaging in robust economic exchanges with the mainland.