Australia benefits from interoperability with the US and its other treaty allies.Australia and the US can intervene in HA/DR (humanitarian assistance/disaster relief)such as 2004 tsunami that struck Indonesia or they can intervene militarily inAfghanistan to oppose extremism.Australia and the United States share most values in common regarding the rule of law, democracy, human rights, religious freedom, gender equality, international lawand global order.Economically
the United States is the largest investor in Australia and Australia is amajor investor
in the United States. Even if the US is not Australia’s top trading
partner, the US, Japan and South Korea are in the top order.Australia and the United States share the same values about a rules basedinternational order particularly towards economic integration.
Australia Doesn’t Have to Choose
Australia can retain its alliance with the United States and comprehensively engagewith China.Australia does not have to sacrifice it economic interests or surrender its values byremaining allied to the US and engaged with China.
Australia’s comprehensive engagement strategy must be bilaterally andmultilaterally based. The Gillard government’s agreement with China for annual
high-level talks is one example. Australia
exercises with the
Army Navy including live-firing exercises is another example.Australia can pursue multilateral engagement through:
United Nations, G-20. World Trade Organisation
East Asia Summit
APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum)
ASEAN Regional Forum
(ADEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus)
ASEAN Enlarged Maritime ForumBottom line: Australia can have it both ways, alliance with the US andcomprehensive engagement with China. There are too many costs and risks inchoosing China over the US or vice versa.What is left out of this equation is how China will act as its power grows botheconomically and militarily. There is also the question about whether or not our
straight line extrapolations of China’s rise are accurate.
Suggested citation: Carlyle A
. Thayer, “
The Alliance: Who Will Australia Choose USAor China?
Thayer Consultancy Background Brief
, September 3, 2013. All background