Australia Gets Closer to China

This Friday, the Australian government published the “Defence White Paper 2013”, stressing the need to deepen military ties with China. From Daniel Flitton at The Age:

''The adverse impact of the global financial crisis has been comparatively heavier on Western economies,'' the Smith white paper notes. ''Western governments are reducing defence expenditure.'' The US has stripped $487 billion out of plans for the coming decade, Britain is making a 7.5 per cent cut. But at the same time, ''China's defence budget continues to record significant year on year increases'' – up 140 per cent since 2000. This captures the transformed world in which Australia finds itself. China is rising fast and catching up to a West that is slowing.

[…] Smith's response, at least in words, has been to hope for the best. ''The relationship between the US and China, the region's and the globe's two most powerful states, will more than any other single factor determine our strategic environment,'' the white paper notes. ''Some competition is inevitable, but both seek stability and prosperity, not conflict.”

Enda Curran at The Wall Street Journal notes that the opposition party in Australia is not happy with this move:

China is the destination for about a quarter of Australia's exports, mostly raw materials such as coal and iron ore that have powered its economic growth in recent years. Last month, the nations signed a landmark currency deal that allows the Australian dollar and Chinese yuan to be directly converted for the first time–eliminating the need for companies and currency traders to translate into U.S. dollars first.

[…] The main opposition in Australia, the center-right Liberal Nationals, described the new defense white paper as “superficial.” Opinion polls suggest the party, led by Tony Abbott, will easily win a general election scheduled for Sept. 14.

[…] Still, a sharp departure is unlikely even if Mr. Abbott's party wins, analysts said, given that Australia would still depend on China economically, as much as on its security alliance with the U.S.

See more on Sino-Australian relations via CDT.


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