Australia

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese arrives at I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport ahead of G20 Summit, Bali, Indonesia, 14 November 2022. (Fikri Yusuf/G20 Media Center/Handout via Reuters)

Australia far more wary of China than SEA nations despite thawing relations

Susannah Patton, director of the Southeast Asia Program at Lowy Institute, reflects on the thaw in Australia-China relations, surmising that the resumption of dialogue may mean Australia is no longer a regional outlier. But unchanging imperatives may see Australia’s continued investment in capabilities for the regional deterrence of China, which may worry some in Southeast Asia.
Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese walk together to their one-on-one meeting at Fraser's Restaurant on 22 October 2022 in Perth, Australia. (Stefan Gosatti/Pool via Reuters)

Japan-Australia relations moves up a notch with China in mind

Japanese academic Shin Kawashima assesses the joint statement and joint declaration issued by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese recently, observing a strengthening of relations amid common interests.
Samoa Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa (left) and Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare (right) listen to the opening remarks of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Suva on 12 July 2022. (William West/AFP)

ASEAN needs to watch the US-China strategic competition in the Pacific

Beijing’s recent moves to establish security cooperation with Pacific island states have riled the US and Australia. Among the places that China has made moves is the Solomon Islands, where Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US security advisor Kurt Campbell have each visited within the past three months. ASEAN needs to closely watch the ongoing great power competition there to draw lessons for its own security.
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong with the ASEAN Committee of Permanent Representatives at the ASEAN Secretariat, 6 June 2022. (Twitter/@SenatorWong)

'Hard yakka' ahead for Australia and ASEAN relations

Australia has made significant inroads in its engagement with ASEAN. But Canberra’s relationship with the grouping will be a hard slog, given their differences in approaching China and ensuring that China-US rivalry does not derail regional aspirations. In the meantime, Australia remains involved with the US in groupings including AUKUS and the Quad, maintaining relations with Japan and India.
US President Joe Biden during a news conference following the final day of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit at the IFEMA congress center in Madrid, Spain, on 30 June 2022. (Valeria Mongelli/Bloomberg)

What a ‘resurrected’ NATO means for China and the world

The recent NATO summit in Madrid seems to indicate that NATO is making a comeback in full force. For China, painted as presenting “systemic challenges” to NATO, this should sound a warning that when the time is ripe for the US to contain China, key countries in the Asia-Pacific and the EU will not be on its side.
China's State Councilor and Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe gestures before a plenary session during the 19th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, 12 June 2022. (Caroline Chia/Reuters)

China at the centre of the world’s politics

Former journalist Goh Choon Kang observes that whether it is the discussions at the recently concluded Shangri-La Dialogue or the larger machinations of geopolitics, it cannot be denied that having China in the picture changes many things, and perhaps even provides countries with more strategic options.
Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida welcomes US President Joe Biden at the entrance hall of the Prime Minister’s Office of Japan in Tokyo, Japan, 24 May 2022. (Zhang Xiaoyu/Pool via Reuters)

Biden’s Asia tour: US deepening its commitments to counter China

US President Joe Biden's recent visit to Asia was made with China in mind, as he met with Quad partners South Korea, Japan, Australia and India, and launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). At the very least, says Japanese academic Ryo Sahashi, the visit signals that the US is keen on setting the rules in the region and keeping a firm security presence especially vis-à-vis the Taiwan Strait.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, alongside Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, waves as the two board the plane to Japan to attend the Quad leaders meeting in Tokyo, in Canberra, Australia, 23 May 2022. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch via Reuters)

Don’t expect a reset in Australia-China relations anytime soon

While the Scott Morrison government has bowed out to a new team from the Labor Party following the elections, it will be hard to change the downward trajectory of Australia-China relations. This is in large part due to the strength of Australia’s alliance with the US, says Associate Professor Yuan Jingdong of the University of Sydney.
US President Joe Biden and Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese hold a bilateral meeting alongside the Quad Summit at Kantei Palace in Tokyo, Japan, 24 May 2022. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Australia's turn towards the US: ASEAN centrality at risk

ASEAN’s goal of remaining at the centre of regionalism in Asia is at risk. Australia is something of a bellwether middle-ranking country in the region. It was an enthusiastic participant in the proliferation of new multilateral mechanisms in the 1990s and 2000s but has clearly changed its priorities, reflecting a preference for more result-oriented mechanisms like the Quad and AUKUS.