Eyes peeled: Australia wary of rising China

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 April, 2016, 12:17am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 April, 2016, 12:17am

In its sprint towards modern prosperity, China is suspected of being rapacious and self-serving, inciting Australia’s expanded military spending.

Australia’s recent escalation in defence spending clearly has China in its sights.

Despite China’s mammoth sacrifices in the defeat of the rampaging Japanese in the 1930s and 1940s, the country has yet to garner the humanitarian credibility that post-war reconstruction help for a defeated Germany and Japan fostered for the United States and Britain. This reputation was forged in the crucible of the just world wars of the 20th century.

Australia remains in a quandary regarding China’s role in the Asia-Pacific.

As an established ally of the US, we share America’s fear of China’s rising military influence within the sphere of neighbours off our northern coast.

This tension escalated to anxiety-provoking levels , with China trying to establish a foothold in the disputed Spratly Islands off the coasts of the Philippines, Malaysia and southern Vietnam. The Chinese navy has also made its presence felt in contested marine territories of the South China Sea.

In this context, the recently released “Asia-Pacific Rebalance 2025, Capability, Presence and Partnerships” in the US assumes a welcome counterweight to China’s bristling muscle in South-east Asia and the rest of the Far East. As Australia is likely to adopt the report’s recommendations regarding the Northern Territory housing armed forces from the US, China will surely perceive our preferred alignment with the US as playing right-hand man to America’s tough-minded limitation of China’s geopolitical aspirations.

As a Chinese-Australian, I would say that the unseen elephant in the room is that Australia is more culturally aligned with the US and Europe than it will ever be with China, a fixed variable that will not change any time soon.

Joseph Ting, Brisbane, Australia