Australia’s Strategic Relationship with China and the United States

No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, I believe that there is cause for concern with regards to the incoming Trump administration and Australia’s political and military situation. The President Elect and his nominee for Secretary of State have been bullish when it comes to China and China are understandably pushing back. China are not an innocent party in all this. Their work in militarising the South China Sea is an alarming and unnecessary escalation. Something that I find worrisome to the long term stability of South East Asia and perhaps even the entire Pacific.

In 1941, Australia was in many ways still just a far flung outpost of the British Empire despite 40 years of independence. But with the threat of Japan, Australia turned to the US especially after the military forces of the British melted under the Japanese onslaught. At the time, this was essential to preserve our independence and freedom.

Ever since however, both sides of the political isle have continued to slavishly follow the lead of the US. Since 1945, this has resulted in the loss of many Australian lives to achieve the war (ie. political) aims and objectives of the US.

I support a strong relationship with the US. They are our most important strategic partner. Also, having access to US military equipment saves substantial time and money and provides world class equipment to the Defence Force. But I also strongly support our continued economic relationship with China.

I do not wish us to alienate either nation, but I believe neutrality in any conflict between the two is absolutely essential. I do not know how the government and the Departments of Defence and Foreign Affairs and Trade are viewing the escalation of tensions, but it is my fervent hope that Australia commits to neutrality to avoid being pulled into any potential conflict.

The ANZUS treaty states that we should ‘consult’ and ‘act’, but it is not clear that ‘act’ compels us to intervene like the North Atlantic Treaty where Article 5 clearly outlines the mutual defence of member states who are attacked in Europe or North America.

Nations always do what is in their own best interest. The US absolutely want us as an ally in any conflict with China for obvious reasons, however my opinion is that our national interest in this case should be to stay out of it. Choosing either side could be disastrous. The US did not want a North Atlantic Treaty Article 5 style passage in the ANZUS treaty because it did not want to be compelled to act if Australia or New Zealand were attacked, so why should we get in the middle of a fight between two 500 tonne gorillas when doing so is against our national interest?

We are a modern and prosperous nation. We are not as dependent on the US and the UK as we used to be, and we are more than capable of breaking off the shackles of slavish devotion and standing on our own. I do not believe that we should turn against the US, but we can be strong friends without getting involved in their wars.