Australia Launches Strategic Dialogue with United States to Counter China’s “Economic Coercion” | Washington Examiner
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison wants to launch a new “strategic economic dialogue” with the United States to counter the economic weight of China.
“Unlike the Cold War, geostrategic competition in the decades to come will be in the economic realm,” former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in a speech to the Australian American Leadership Dialogue. “Our recent experience with economic coercion underscores this. This is why I believe that our bilateral strategic cooperation should extend to economic issues.”
It’s a welcome message for Chinese hawks across the Indo-Pacific, as President Joe Biden and Japanese officials seek to to assemble a coalition to prevent Beijing from bending the region to the will of the Chinese Communist Party. Turnbull paired the economic proposal with an offer to expand manufacturing power to serve as a “second safe source” of precision-strike missiles to the United States – a pair of ideas marking a sea change in outlook for policy foreigner from Australia in recent years.
“The Chinese have managed to push the Australians much further from where they were two or three years ago than one could imagine,” said Alexander Gray, head of the American Foreign Policy Council, senior Australian official on the White House National Security Council. New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
This is good news for Japan, which pioneered the concept of a “free and open Indo-Pacific” in an attempt to counter China’s ability to seize a place of choice in the region.
“Southeast Asia is a region where we have critical feelings,” Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said. Sydney Morning Herald in one interview published Wednesday. “Australia is quite influential in the South East Asia region, as well as the Pacific Islands. So I would like to expect Australia to show some leadership in promoting this vision. of a free and open Indo-Pacific. “
China has made a game of developing ports and airports in the Pacific Islands, sometimes in the islands or important battles of World War II were fought. It retains this historic strategic importance because future Chinese military access to these islands could sever the link between Australia and Japan and between Hawaii and the main US military base in Guam.
“So it is essential that we have the capacity to maintain these sea routes and these sea lines of communication around these islands,” said Gray. “They matter to us in the Central Pacific, and they matter in the South West Pacific to Australians.”
U.S. and allied officials fear that China will attempt to take control of Taiwan in the next few years, which would give the communist regime a new island stronghold in the Pacific south of Japan and north of other state-allied democracies. -United.
“Taiwan’s defense stability is very important, not only for the security of Japan, but also for the stability of the world,” said Kishi, the Japanese defense minister.
Morrison wants to improve Australia’s missile capabilities to fortify Allied positions in the South Pacific. To that end, his government is contributing $ 70 million to fund the development of new precision-strike missiles made in the United States, according to Australian media – and he wants some of them made in Australia.
“This will not only meet our defense needs, but more importantly it will mean that Australia can become a second secure source of supply for our ally, the United States. It is about passing on our cooperation on this matter. defense technology to the next level, where we foster a deeper integration of our security science, technology, supply chains and industrial bases, ”said Morrison.
These missiles are not expected to have the range required to target Chinese forces attempting to operate in the Pacific Islands in a crisis. Yet the United States’ withdrawal from a Cold War-era treaty with Russia opened the door to modernizing the arsenal.
“I think the lesson from the last two years is, we don’t want to be in position… [of] not having the systems to evolve with the security environment, ”Gray said. “It’s really important that Australians have such a capacity because we don’t know in five years what the strategic environment will look like in their near abroad. . “