China-Australia ties headed from bad to worse

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Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton said those who think China’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region are restricted to Taiwan don’t understand history….reports Asian Lite News

Australia’s already strained ties with China have further hit a new low during the recent past over a slew of incidents, with Canberra taking measures to boost its national defence, experts in the Asia Pacific said.

The Australian government this week announced that it will allocate more than USD 27 billion to boost the national defence and increase the number of military employees by some 18,000 until 2040. The number of uniformed personnel will reach about 80,000 while the number of permanent defence employees will surpass 101,000 in 2040.

Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton said those who think China’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region are restricted to Taiwan don’t understand history.

Australia and UK deepen security ties amid China worries (Credits: Scott Morrison/ Twitter)

“When you look at what’s happening in Europe at the moment, people who believe that President Putin’s only ambition is for Ukraine don’t understand the history that our military leaders understand,” Dutton told reporters as the country announced measures to boost the country’s defence forces.

This update in defence preparedness comes amid growing fissures in Australia-China.

Derek Grossman, a senior defence analyst with the US-based Rand Corporation research organization, said China-Australian relations are maybe even worse than US-China relations.

“It just seems like the atmospherics around China (and) Australia has hit a vitriolic level.”

The strains between the two countries started when Australia in April 2020 called for a probe into the handling of COVID-19. Later in November that year, China stranded more than 50 Australian coal ships near its ports, placed tariffs on a string of agricultural imports.

China worries most about the worsening Australia-U.S. alliance, the Washington based Voice of America (VOA) reported citing analysts familiar with the region.

Against this backdrop, the US and Australia meet regularly with Japan and India for discussions about the security situation om the South China Sea – a waterway that Beijing claims as its own.

Earlier this week, Australia’s intelligence chief had said a “troubling new strategic convergence” between Beijing and Moscow has developed and the risk of “major power conflict” had grown since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Andrew Shearer, Australia’s director-general of the Office of National Intelligence, said China’s President Xi Jinping appears to be planning to dominate the Indo-Pacific region and use it as a base to overtake the US as the world’s leading power.

Some analysts believe that China and Australia have entered a spiral where one side’s actions spark a reaction from the other.

“China’s buildup is at least partially in response to … Australia’s own buildup, so with these (troop increase) announcements by the Australian Prime Minister, I believe China is definitely going to pay attention to that and all these ongoing military preparations essentially will be geared toward that as well as those by the US,” said Collin Koh, a maritime security research fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Federal elections in Australia set for May could set a new tone for “long-term strategic competition with China,” Koh was quoted as saying by VOA.

China is especially watching any military-related developments, he added. (ANI)

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