Deep Waters - Australia/China Tension. (Day 48)

Patrick JC.

1 month ago by PatrickJC

How ya’ going? As you are aware, the global stage is faced with potential combat warfare between two superpowers. After decades of American dominance and economic prosperity, China emerges as the threat to US hegemony. China has seen incredible growth in many metrics, including GDP, military defence spending and technological capability. It is likely that China is to become America’s strongest enemy in recent history. I’ve mentioned in the past how observers often link China/US to Thucydides Trap.

China’s GDP grows steadily at roughly the rate of the Australian economy each year (Gyngell, 2019). Within the past decade, China’s defence spending has also risen by 80 percent. If you didn’t know, we are engaged in the ANZUS alliance signed in 1951 between the United States, New Zealand and Australia. Such a treaty will directly involve Australian military in the possible future battlefield.

As tensions rise in Australia’s surrounding geographic region - American troops have now been stationed in the North of Darwin. This has been so since the beginning of year (Edwards, 2021). Nuclear submarine agreements between the US, UK and Australia (AUKUS Agreement) have also been made to provide additional presence within the South Pacific region (Erickson, 2021).

On China’s end - synthetic surveillance islands have been constructed within the South China Sea. China is implementing its assertion within the region, lately posing direct shows of power towards Taiwan. McGregor (2019) argues there is no foreseeable future in which China will give up any of its territory with the South China Sea and Taiwan. Xi Jinping confirmed this notion when he spoke to US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis in 2018. Jinping essentially stated that backing down in territorial practice is non-negotiable. This was almost four years ago.

Tensions were hardly at the level they are now between Australia and China at that time. In hindsight, it was obvious that we would always play America’s sidekick and remain that way. They primed and expected it of us for years…

‘’Former Australian ambassador to the United States Kim Beazley recalls the parting gift he received when leaving Washington: A picture of a US Destroyer being tailed by a Chinese ship while conducting a South China Sea navigation. It carried an inscription, scribbled by a senior American official – ‘hope to see you guys doing this soon’. – Prof. Brendan Taylor, ANU

Strategically, Australia has fair reason be prepared for military conflict should it arise. With increases in defence expenditure and volatile relationships between powers, one could consider that the natural inevitability of war is already beginning to manifest.

The military behaviour, aggressiveness and geographic presence of the US and Australia is a can of worms to open another day. After sussing out a couple of articles and narratives from last decade, it is clear we were on the cautious offensive back then. We only seem to be strengthening that position today.

Aussie Stressors

I reckon Australia doesn’t have the economic, technological or military leverage to be taking the offensive right now. Australia’s major export income is sourced via three sectors to our biggest purchaser, China - lol. These are resources, education and tourism. From 2019, all three of these sectors have been used as leveraged diplomatic attacks from China. Similarly, cyberwarfare remains an unbeatable area. Attacks of Denial of Service (Dos) and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) can leave the communication and security bands of Australia openly susceptible or destroyed. Their technological advancement in contrast to ours make combating the intercepting attacks difficult, if not impossible to counter.

I’m rambling. News on secretive Chinese missile technology got me thinking about this topic. Not to mention that we are now in potential nuclear sights. Questions I’m going to reflect on for later, maybe…

  • Has the ‘AUKUS Pact‘ further cemented a nuclear target upon Australia?
  • Should we expect ‘hypersonic’ missile attacks within the decade?
  • Are these valid IR concerns or just propaganda narratives, on either side?

Gyngell, A. (2019). History hasn’t ended: How to handle China. Australian Foreign Affairs, 7, 5-27.

Edwards, E. (2021, June 10). US Military boost on Australian shores ‘in our own security interest’. 9News.

Erickson, A. (2021, September 20). Australia badly needs nuclear submarines: maritime scope, and China’s rise, makes the AUKUS deal a no brainer. Foreign Policy.

McGregor, R. (2019). Trade deficits: How China could punish Australia. Australian Foreign Affairs, 7, 54-74.

Anyway – pretty slow day at work today as you can tell! Flat out with some projects tonight though. Music-wise, here is something fitting.