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.
The new policing and security agreements between China and the Solomon Islands have neighbouring countries such as Australia and New Zealand anxious about the potential militarisation of the region. Zaobao correspondent Edwin Ong warns that small island nations in the South Pacific must be careful about choosing sides so as not to become pawns in great power competition.
Former foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang is slated to be the next Chinese ambassador to Indonesia. Amid US-China tensions, a post in Indonesia presents opportunities and challenges both in terms of bilateral relations and in engaging ASEAN. Known to be a steady hand, if Lu can chalk up notable achievements during his tenure, he may move on to higher roles, just like other high-flying spokesmen of the ministry.
Former German diplomat Dr Anne-Marie Schleich analyses the impact of AUKUS from the perspective of key players in the region. This development sees important ramifications, not only for Australia, which has further thrown in its lot with the US, but for other stakeholders such as the Pacific island countries, who may see their nuclear-free Blue Pacific blueprint thwarted, as well as the European countries, who must decide how they can maintain a strategic presence in the region within the AUKUS framework.
Last year, Western media attributed the cause of China's power shortages to the latter's unofficial ban on Australian coal. This year, Chinese netizens and we-media are claiming that power cuts are necessary and a result of “an invisible exchange of swordplay in big country economic competition”. Leveraging nationalism and big power competition to garner attention and support is indeed the order of the day. Zaobao journalist Liu Liu explains why Chinese authorities and state media are debunking these conspiracy theories and refusing to ride on the patriotism wave.
Australia, the US and the UK recently launched the enhanced trilateral security partnership “AUKUS”. American academic Zhu Zhiqun believes that AUKUS is divisive and serves the interests of the US military-industrial complex. It has also raised the stakes in China’s threat perceptions, given the unspoken target of the grouping. And now that Australia has picked a side, how will power dynamics play out in the Indo-Pacific region? Will China also seek alliances to strengthen itself?
The Pacific Island Forum (PIF) has undergone some intense internal power struggle recently, and the region is also subjected to rising global geopolitical competition and tension. In fact, the "Taiwan-China conflict is virulent in this region", says former German diplomat Dr Anne-Marie Schleich.
EAI academic Yu Hong notes that the RCEP will bring greater regional economic integration by increasing trade in Asia-Pacific and generating new business opportunities for companies in the 15 member countries of ASEAN, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia. China and ASEAN in particular, are well-placed to reap many of the benefits.