Why Australia bet the house on enduring American power in Asia

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Speaking on Thursday, Morrison said the enhanced security alliance with the United States and Britain, which will include collaborations on artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies, reflects the needs of a more dangerous dynamics in the Asia-Pacific region.

“The relatively favorable environment that we have enjoyed for many decades in our region is behind us,” he said, without directly mentioning China. “We have entered a new era with new challenges for Australia and our partners.”

Some security analysts have argued that China’s recent retaliation against Australia over its harsher line – reducing imports of coal, wine, beef, lobster and barley, as well as holding in minus two Australian citizens of Chinese descent – seemed to have pushed Australia in the direction of the Americans. . In response, China could extend its campaign of economic sanctions. Australia seems to have calculated that Beijing has little interest in improving relations.

“I think the fear of doing this would have been much more palpable even three or four years ago, maybe even two years ago,” said Euan Graham, Asia-Pacific security analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies based in Singapore. . “But once your relationship is all about punishment and slurs, frankly, then that’s already taken into account. China doesn’t have the influence of fear, of being angry, because it is angry all the time. “

One looming question, according to critics of Australia’s steadfast faith in the United States, is whether Washington will measure up. Since President Barack Obama announced a “pivot to Asia” speaking to the Australian Parliament in 2011, US allies have awaited a decisive shift in resources and focus. For the most part, they were disappointed.

Dr Graham said the submarine deal would temper some of these criticisms. For other allies like Japan and South Korea, he said, “It answers that question that the United States is still engaging in its network of alliances in this part of the world.”


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