US-Australia Relations Strengthening Against Chinese Influence in the Pacific

Similar Posts

This post is also available in: Türkçe Русский

As China’s influence in the global system is growing, the United States’ (US) attitude towards Beijing is hardening. The rivalry between the two actors is particularly shaped in the Asia-Pacific. Washington’s policy of containment of Beijing has recently accelerated. Maritime dominance in the region is seen as crucial for the Xi administration’s efforts to create a global network through the Belt and Road Initiative. The US wants to deepen its relations with the island states in the region against China, which has hardened its stance in order to establish this dominance. In this framework, it can be argued that Australia-US relations have strengthened.

China’s economic power also makes it a diplomatic center. Therefore, it is trying to maintain this position. In this context, it can be argued that it intends to show other actors that it is a potential partner with which they can cooperate rather than a threat. It is seen that it has deepened its relations with many states through the Belt and Road Initiative. In the end, this initiative not only established a secure trade network but also increased dependence on China. However, the US containment efforts and economic sanctions against Beijing are pushing China to pursue a more aggressive policy in the region. Therefore, the Xi administration’s military initiatives have recently gained momentum. This is evidenced by his speech at the 96th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army, in which he urged the armed forces to accelerate modernization and expand combat readiness. [1]

Considering the US stance in the Asia Pacific, it can be argued that China is acting with the motive of becoming a new center. In this context, the US is deepening its relations with North Korea. The participation of the Chinese delegation in the parade organized on the occasion of North Korea’s Victory Day [2] shows the close relationship between the two countries It can be interpreted that Beijing has raised its voice against the US military support for the island countries in the region. Chinese Defense Ministry Spokesperson Tan Kefei stated that the US-Taiwan military collusion should be stopped, referring to Washington’s $345 million Taiwan aid package. [3] The US wants to imprison China and weaken its economic power in the South China Sea. In particular, it is very important for the Biden administration to prevent the rights it claims on the islands. Considering the activities in the exclusive economic zones, the reason for this importance is understood.

In the aftermath of the North Korea-US crisis, Beijing’s actions can be characterized as an intimidation to both the regional states and the Washington administration. In particular, the US’s efforts to increase its military presence in South Korea have increased tensions in the region due to the country’s geopolitical position. The appointment of Xu Xisheng [4] as the head of the Rocket Force of the People’s Liberation Army of China shows that it will give relative importance to the issue of nuclear and conventional missiles.

Looking at the international system, there have been debates throughout history on whether the transition of hegemony would be bloody or bloodless. World Wars I and II, which made the US the dominant power, are examples of bloody hegemony transition. There is a perception that Washington is gradually moving away from its role as the “world’s gendarme” and retreating to the limits where a global system more in line with its reality can function. However, its actions in the Asia-Pacific show that it will not give up the Pax Americana easily. Indeed, its attempts to contain Beijing continue with increasing momentum. At this point, it is deepening its relations with actors with conflicting interests with China and engaging with new actors. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stated that Washington stands with countries fighting against China’s bullying. [5] This statement shows the US attitude towards Beijing and the reason for its military presence in the region.

On the one hand, the Biden administration appears as a political obstacle to China’s trans-Pacific trade, and on the other hand, it tries to block China’s room for maneuver [6] in the Asia-Pacific. The fact that the US provided Taiwan with a military aid package of 345 million dollars proves China’s support for its rivals. In conclusion, it can be argued that the Washington-Beijing rivalry is intensifying in the Asia Pacific. This is because the military and political moves in the region cause tensions to rise. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Tonga, where a new embassy was opened, and called it “predatory”. [7] China has warned about the dangers of investments. Based on this development, it can be argued that the US and China are in a race for influence. At this point, Australia comes to the fore. As a matter of fact, a military-based deepening in its relations with the US can be mentioned.

The Canberra administration aims to improve cooperation with Washington and Western actors to counter Beijing’s influence in the Pacific. In this context, US Secretary of Defense Llyod Austin announced that Australia will be helped to produce guided multiple launch rocket systems by 2025 . [8] Australia and the US are joining forces to break China’s influence in the region. In particular, the steps of the two actors increasing their military ties can be read as a response to China. Indeed, the commissioning of the littoral combat ship USS Canberra, which joined the active fleet of the US Navy in a ceremony held at the Australian naval base, is proof of the said unity of power . [9]

On the one hand, Australia seeks to increase its cooperation with the United States, and on the other hand, it aims to improve its relations with other actors in the region. Caught in the middle of increasing strategic competition, the actor is taking various security measures. However, it would be incomplete to state that Australia is the only actor in the region taking initiatives in this regard . Indeed, Solomon Islands has called for a review of its security agreement with Australia. [10] It is possible to state that this call was made to address security concerns.

Australia is not only taking military initiatives to break Beijing’s influence. It can be argued that it has also taken many initiatives in domestic politics. Indeed, Treasury Minister Jim Chalmers stated that a China-linked company was prevented from taking over Alita Resources, a lithium miner in the country . [11]

In conclusion, the US-China rivalry has led to security concerns in the Pacific. Therefore, actors in the region are taking various initiatives to address these concerns. In this framework, it is possible to state that Australia is trying to deepen its relations with the US. Washington is increasing its military and political presence in the region to break Beijing’s influence. Considering the bilateral relations of the US and Australia with China, it can be argued that the two actors are increasing their cooperation in the region due to the overlapping of their policies. Contacts are likely to intensify in the coming period.

[1] ‘’China’s Xi Calls for Combat Readiness as PLA Marks Founding Anniversary.’’, Reuters,, (Erişim Tarihi: 01.08.2023).

[2] ‘North Korea’s Kim Displays Nuclear-Capable Missiles, Drones at Parade.’’, Aljazeera,, (Erişim Tarihi: 28.07.2023).

[3] ‘’China Complains to US About ‘Dangerous’ Weapons Aid to Taiwan.’’, Reuters,, (Erişim Tarihi: 01.08.2023)

[4] ‘‘Xi Appoints New Chief of China’s Nuclear Arsenal.’’, Reuters,, (Erişim Tarihi: 31.07.2023).

[5]‘‘US Stands Against China’s ‘Bullying’ Behaviour, Pentagon Chief Says.’’, Aljazeera,, (Erişim Tarihi: 28.07.2023).

[6] ‘‘US Announces $345m Military Aid Package for Taiwan.’’, Aljazeera,, (Erişim Tarihi: 29.07.2023).

[7] ‘‘US’s Blinken Visits Tonga, Warns Of ‘Predatory’ Chinese Aid.’’, Aljazeera,, (Erişim Tarihi: 26.07.2023).

[8]‘‘US To Help Australia Develop Guided Missiles By 2025.’’, Aljazeera,, (Erişim Tarihi: 29.07.2023).

[9] ‘‘US Commissions Navy Warship USS Canberra in Sydney.’’, Aljazeera,, (Erişim Tarihi: 22.07.2023).

[10] ‘‘Solomon Islands Calls for Review of Security Pact with Australia.’’, Aljazeera,, (Erişim Tarihi: 29.06.2023).

[11] ‘‘Australia Blocks Acquisition of Lithium Mine by China-Linked Firm.’’, Aljazeera,, (Erişim Tarihi: 21.07.2023).