Sunday 25 Feb 2018 | 09:19 | SYDNEY
Sunday 25 Feb 2018 | 09:19 | SYDNEY

Australia's win-win security alliance



5 July 2012 14:57

Analysts have long worried that the defence of Australia and Australia's Asian engagement project pull the country in different directions and create serious policy challenges for Canberra.

Today, we see this worry among those who postulate that there are tremendous tensions between Australia's growing economic relationship with the People's Republic of China and our 'cornerstone' security relationship with the US. Former Prime Minister Keating's odd reading of President Obama's Canberra speech is a good case in point.

Since the writing of the last Defence White Paper a long-term trend has become more apparent. This trend creates a clear 'win-win' situation between the defence of Australia, underpinned by the ANZUS alliance, and Australia's Asian engagement project. This is particularly so when we remind ourselves that Asia is much larger than the People's Republic of China.

Signified by the deepening Japan-Australia security relationship, the Japan-South Korea relationship and the Vietnam-India relationship, a growing number of Asian powers have developed more common views of regional security in line with those of the 2009 Defence White Paper. These converging views appreciate the importance of continued US strategic leadership in the Asia Pacific century and the role greater cooperation between security allies and partners of the US can play in supporting and shaping this leadership.

More than ever, Australia's ANZUS alliance is providing a clear basis for closer security relations with a growing number of Asian powers such as India, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines, each in ways that strengthen Australia and ANZUS.

The next Defence White Paper should consider how to take full advantage of this win-win situation now at the heart of Australian defence and Asian engagement policies. The fact that the People's Republic of China is outside this common Asia Pacific view and its assertive actions have helped forge this view should be seen primarily as a Chinese regional policy problem rather than a problem of the common view and the Asia Pacific powers who share it.

Photo by Flickr user Aust Defence Force.

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