Australia Strives to Balance China and the United States

Canberra - AustraliaOfficial Chinese news media responded in a low-key, if apparently approving, fashion to a shift by Australian government toward a much more conciliatory strategic approach to China, judging by some reactions over the weekend. Judging by at least some online reactions from ordinary Chinese, suspicions linger that Australia may largely be doing United States’ bidding in region, despite the shift in Canberra. Australian government “no longer considers China a potential strategic threat, but considers China important partner,” People’s Daily wrote from Canberra in a matter-of-fact article, citing content of Australia’s new defense White Paper, which softens that country’s policy on China laid out 4 years ago. “The white paper points out that ‘the government will not make China out to be an adversary. The goal of this policy is to encourage China’s peaceful rise and to prevent strategic competition in the region from slipping into conflict,’” the reporter Li Jingwei wrote in the newspaper, a Communist Party mouthpiece. “In issues of development assistance in the Asia-Pacific región white paper no longer criticizes China but recognizes China’s influence in the region,” Mr. Li wrote. The white paper, presented in Canberra on Friday by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Defense Minister Stephen Smith, “stresses importance of Australia’s relations with both China and U.S., but says U.S. will remain Australia’s most important ally,” newspaper The Australian wrote in a story titled, “Defence white paper pivots over China threat.” “We welcome China’s rise,” The Australian quoted Gillard saying. “We seek to have comprehensive and constructive engagement with China.” “We also recognize that China’s rise and its subsequent military modernization is changing the strategic order of our region, that the U.S.-China relationship is pivotal to our region of the world,” it quoted Ms. Gillard as saying. As China modernizes its military, Australia will “continue to call for transparency on that military modernization”. Australia’s geographic position in Asia-Pacific region makes relations with China a pressing strategic issue for the country. Australia is economically increasingly reliant on China but also longtime U.S. ally, complicating its relations with Asian giant. The new white paper recalibrates Australia’s response to China, James Brown of the Lowy Institute for International Policy wrote, comparing it with the previous paper, issued in 2009, which was tougher and annoyed China. “The strategic assessment of White Paper is much more sophisticated than that of the 2009 version. The rise of China is no longer a threat to wax histrionic about, but instead a nuanced issue on which there are many aspects and many possible outcomes,” Mr. Brown wrote on The Interpreter, the institute’s blog (…..)



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One Response to Australia Strives to Balance China and the United States

  1. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: China is by far THE main trading partner of natural resources rich countries like Australia and Brazil. Economic growth and prosperity in those commodity exporting countries are directly linked to trade with China. In this new century, Shanghai stock index is more important than Wall Street stock exchange for commodity exporting economies. Besides countries in Latin America and Africa, it includes historically staunch US military allies as Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In those three countries, economic policies are dictated by the reality of China trade while foreign policy attempts to stay out of any geopolitical conflict between Beijing and Washington DC. The islands dispute between China and Japan in the South China sea is a good example. Neither Australia nor New Zealand are taking side in the dispute involving Japan, a country protected by the US 7th fleet navy. So far the policy of doing business with China while supporting US foreign military interventions has worked fine. The problem is any future conflict between the two superpowers. In the worst scenario, Australia and New Zealand will be forced to choose sides.


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