Analysts said this week that Australia’s recent more combative stance on China will strengthen political and military coordination among US allies, which hope to curb Beijing’s maritime expansion.
Despite active trade relations, Canberra broke its neutral position with China in May, June, and July with harsh promises and comments due to a series of problems with the Communist government. In particular, Australia publicly sent a letter to the United States last month to the United Nations, publicly stating that Beijing’s claim of sovereignty in the disputed South China Sea is illegal, thereby publicly supporting the United States.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison hinted in his speech on Wednesday that Australia will work more closely with India, Japan and the United States. The allies are so close that in May a Chinese newspaper cited netizens calling Canberra a “dog” in Washington.
These four countries belong to the Group of Four, which was established in 2007 to discuss security issues in Asia, including China’s activities. Experts predict that although the United States is usually in a leading position, it will be stimulated by Australia this time.
“At least from an Australian perspective, Australia is trying to play an important guiding role rather than a follower role,” said Stuart Orr, a professor of management at Deakin University in Australia.
On Wednesday, Morrison pointed out the June Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with India in his speech at the Indo-Pacific Security Forum. This partnership requires that defense ministers meet at least once every two years. Morrison added on Wednesday that Australia had reached a memorandum of cooperation with Japan in space cooperation in July, and stated that Australia plans to take “concrete actions to support our friends and family in the Pacific and Southeast Asia.” Japan and India are against China. Has its own painful territorial issue.
For decades, the US and Australian governments have cooperated in boycotting foreign governments that Washington does not like. Now, the US is involved in a trade dispute with China. Western countries are dissatisfied with China’s suspected technology-related crimes and hope that Asian countries will be investigated as the source of the coronavirus.
Australia proposed a formal investigation into the origin of the Chinese pandemic in May, and a month later, Morrison stated that Australia had become a target of “state-based” cyber attacks. Beijing called the June speech a smear.
Compared with other countries that worry about Beijing, “I think Washington and Canberra are on the same page of a book about China,” said Stephen Nagy, a senior associate professor of politics and international studies at Tokyo International Christian University.
He said: “I think they have a stronger sense of unity in confronting China in a wise way.”
None of the four countries claim to own the South China Sea, but all countries view it as a key point for China’s expansion beyond its land borders, and view Beijing as an enemy of the Cold War.
China competes with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam for sovereignty and maritime sovereignty. Compared with China, all five rivals have weaker military power and have fewer infrastructures on hundreds of small islands at sea. The claimant used 3.5 million square kilometers of the South China Sea for fish, energy storage and navigation channels.
Officials in Beijing cited historical usage records to defend their claim to own approximately 90% of the ocean area.
“China must at least remain vigilant. At the same time, it must also pay more attention to the leadership or leadership of Australia and the United States. They may think this is unwelcome and may cause greater external benefits and the prospect of intervention in the South. China. Sea,” said Collin Koh, a marine safety researcher at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
The London media organization India Company suggested in comments made after Morrison’s meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that India may wish to establish a quadrilateral machine near the disputed land border in a military confrontation with China.
Scholars believe that Australia’s leading role in the “quartet” may mean that more joint naval exercises have angered China.
Japan and Australia joined the Ronald Reagan and a strike team last month to conduct joint exercises in southeastern China.
Carl Thayer, a retired professor of Southeast Asia at the University of New South Wales in the United States, said that US-Australia military exercises will accelerate, especially if it involves traditional pro-European allies such as Japan, India, France and the United Kingdom. Australia.
Although the claims of South China Sea countries and Beijing overlap, the enthusiasm of Southeast Asian countries is not as enthusiastic as the Quartet’s enthusiasm for Australia’s new confidence. Some countries such as Brunei and the Philippines have received aid and investment from China. Their negotiating group, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, hopes to finally reach a maritime code of conduct with Beijing.
Australia and Vietnam, the most outspoken maritime claimants, issued a joint statement last year stating that they “express serious concerns about developments in the South China Sea, including land reclamation and the militarization of controversial features, which are likely to involve Chinese activities. .