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Japan or China the Most Important Strategic Relationship for Australia Among the Major Asian Powers?

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Is Japan or China the most important strategic relationship for Australia among the major Asian powers? By Mej Amran B Mohamad RMAF Malaysian Armed Forces Defence College Haigate Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. 12 Nov 2009 Author can be contacted at : [email protected] com. au ——————————————————————————————————————— Introduction Australia’s credentials and place in today international system is quite significant which influence greatly her ability to position and formulating herself strategically in the global scenario especially in the Asia Pacific region.

As a nation with global interests, Australia deals with many countries in many regions and one of them is in Asian region. Australia undoubtedly and substantially engages hers interests in a wide range of aspects within the framework of the countries within this Asian region. Among the countries which are influential in shaping Australia’s strategic and defense policy within the Asia Pacific ring are China, Japan and South Korea, North Korea and Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) block countries.

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On the other hand significant Australian interests are also engaged in Australia’s relationships with the other states such as the European Union and its member states, and in the South Pacific, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. However the emerging of China and the influence of Japanese among the major power and largest economies of the Asia-Pacific region has considerably alter the region stability lately.

Many new factors and balancing pointers have emerged and its impacts cannot be ignored in shaping Australia strategic relationship and its development of defense policy. Consequently new form of challenges have emerged such as North Korea nuclear proliferation issues and overlapping claimed territory in the South China Sea to mention a few. As such advertently Australia needs to revisit and review back its strategic relationship between the so called major powers in Asia region like China and Japan in order to ensure its effective implementation of strategic environment.

Australia essentially need to ensure its security, trading, investment, economic, social partners towards the region continue to uphold and be beneficial to Australia in order to continue sustain and maintain its competitive advantage. Aim The aim of this paper is to examine and to look into some critical aspects of Australia strategic and defense planning policy framework imperatives in order to decide whether China or Japan is the most important strategic relationship for Australia among the major Asian powers. Australia International Relations

In its international relations arena, Australia utilizes its assets such as economic, strategic and cultural to uphold its international reputation as a responsible, constructive and practical country. It can be seen that the values which Australia brings to its international relations presently are the values of a liberal democracy greatly influence by her American ally. Australia global politics undoubtedly have been shaped by national experience and given vigour through cultural diversity of the country itself.

Some of the important imperatives include the rule of law, the accountability of the government to an elected parliament, freedom of the press and a commitment to a ‘fair go’. Australia ranks eleventh in the world in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita. For comparison, Australia’s main export destinations[1], 2008 to Japan was 22. 7% 1 and China 15. 6% respectively. Australia’s main import sources, 2008 China 14. 6% and from Japan 9%. Australia’s defense capability is seem to be very significant in regional terms.

Australia also has a broadly based alliance relationship with the United States, whose strategic engagement and commitment underwrite the stability of East Asia as a whole. Australia Strategic Environment According Senator the Hon Robert Hill Minister for Defense[2] in 2005, he stressed out that providing the capability to defend Australia and Australian interests remains the first responsibility of ruling government. Now lets us look into Australia strategic environment before discussing in depth by delineates the impact of globalization in relation to its strategic perspective.

The Impact of Globalisation The world is undeniably experiencing profound and rapid change. While the international world system is dynamic, globalization is accelerating the movement of ideas and technologies and advertently exposing Australia to a new strategic environment framework such as increased the interdependency between countries and made borders more porous, increased of the potency of the terrorist threat, increase the complexity of the potential danger of WMD proliferation[3].

Globalisation has accelerated the trends which have a significant impact on security policy matters, defense capability and decision-making due to increased unpredictability and uncertainty; the technology revolution has led to a diffusion of technology at a faster tempo, particularly in the areas of information and communications; existing of asymmetric threats such as terrorism or WMD have reduced the value of defenses built around geographic advantage; non-state players quite often in some circumstances, constitute a strategic threat such as new form of transnational terrorist organisations, with no state allegiance and new types of weapons and tactics ; and borders as security barriers are now much less effective to mention a few[4]. The interconnectedness of globalisation profoundly have widen and intensify their impacts.

Defense Policy In general, Australia’s defense policy response to this environment comprises of two major elements[5]. The first is to shape and build a defense capability that is versatile and adaptable. Australia has and will continue to build a force that is joint, balanced, networked and deployable. Such a force provides options for a credible response wherever Australia’s security interests are engaged. Secondly is to build strong security relationships both globally and regionally. It must be able to lead and have the capacity to contribute to coalitions in region of interest such as the Asia region as per say. Australia’s Security Interests

Asia Pacific global issues have significant security implications for Australia. Generally the risk of global conflict diminished considerably with the end of the Cold War, however other potential threats remain. Conflicts in Europe, the Middle East and South Asia regions have the potential to disrupt global security. To address this Australia need to form a strategic partnership with many countries in her global political engagements and of course within Asia Pacific Ring, Japan and China are the most important priority among the Asia regional major powers. Australia’s national security and its economic interests are inextricably linked to the security and stability of the Asia Pacific region.

It can be seen that the key components of Australia’s security strategy are maintaining a strong national defense capability, the security alliance with the United States, developing bilateral defense and security relationships with the countries throughout the Asia Pacific, and strengthening multilateral security links in the region, especially with the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). As such by continuously fostering strategic relationship with China and Japan are paramount. Regular bilateral security dialogues with countries in the Asia Pacific, and with key partners beyond the region, provide an opportunity to share views on a wide range of regional and global security issues, promote transparency and reinforce Australia’s commitment to working cooperatively with regional countries on security issues. Australia has increased the number of countries with which it has such dialogues, as part of its long-term strategy of promoting shared security perceptions in the Asia Pacific region.

The ARF for example is an important means of encouraging a sense of strategic community in the region. It complements the central role of bilateral links in dealing with global and regional security issues, and has an important role in encouraging regional support for international regimes against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their missile delivery systems. One of the features of the ARF in 2000 was the participation for the first time of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). On the other hand Australia sees Japan as a strong proponent and strongly supports ASEAN countries economic growth by providing financial aids and assistance in terms of Official Development Aids (ODA) for instance.

Subsequently, Australia on the other hand has been very much part of the process of seeking to engage the DPRK more constructively with the regional and international community, including through an exchange of high-level visits. Australia announced the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with the DPRK in May 2000. Australia has made a major contribution to the significant progress in establishing international regimes to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and of missiles. Australia’s future efforts will be concentrated on ensuring that these regimes are implemented and remain effective and, where necessary, are strengthened.

Australia is a strong proponent of encouraging adherence to the international regime banning the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel landmines. Australia is committed and relentlessly to adopt practical measures such as landmine clearance, victim assistance and mine clearance technology programs. So after looking inside the Australia needs, now lets us see what has China and Japan share in common and in what ways Australia can benefit more and have the edge by associating herself with the two countries strategically from my perspectives. One thing for sure is that Australia strategic relationships in the Asian region are becoming more complex and continue to evolve. China

China’s increasing political and strategic engagement with the Asia-Pacific region with its emerging economic profoundly has many significant impacts on the global economy as well as within the Asia region. Its increasing demand for resources is driving China expansion of economic activity development in the Asia-Pacific region and also emerging as a significant technological centre for region. Hence, China’s importance to Australia grows along with this development accordingly and it cannot be totally ignored. Undoubtedly Australia sees China’s relations with the countries of the Asia-Pacific region are critically important to the maintenance of regional peace, security and stability.

According to Jieh-Yung Lo, (2007)[6], Australia’s strategic responses would include China’s relationship with East Asia, placing strong emphasis on the Korean Peninsula. In particular, China’s relations with Japan and the United States play another vital role in shaping the security context for the entire region. It is in Australia’s national interest actively to encourage and support Chinese participation in dialogue and cooperation on regional security issues. As for example during 2000-01 the exchange of high-level visits started by the visit of Chinese President Jiang Zemin to Australia in late 1999 continued, with six Australian ministers and the Deputy Prime Minister visiting China.

The investment and trade relationship between Australia and China is very encouraging and expanding. China today is Australia’s third largest merchandise trade partner. New opportunities for Australia are wide open when China’s was accepted entry into the WTO, both in terms of greater market access for Australian goods and services. Thus by encouraging China to integrate further into the global economy and abide by international trade rules, the role China played in advocating regional stability become more pronounce.. Mutual economic and trade interests are increasingly underpinned by the strengthening of broader bilateral ties including cultural, educational, scientific and people-to-people links.

With different cultures and traditions, Australia and China do not always share the same view, but regular dialogue and government-to-government exchanges have been established on a range of issues – from human rights to security issues – in a bid to discuss differences of opinion. The one-China policy will continue to be a fundamental element of the bilateral relationship within which Australia pursues important economic and trade interests with Taiwan. The size, competitiveness and pace of growth of the Chinese economy will continue to be a dynamic influence on other Asia-Pacific economies. Hence its strategic influence will continue to grow and need to be carefully weighted by Australia in planning her defense policy in the region. Japan On the other hand Japan arms of influence cannot be simply being ignored.

It must not be forgotten and by reminiscing on the past history of the might of Japanese expansion and World War II (WW II) and the remarkable effort of its quick phase to recover and become a developed country later to become the giant world economy just next to United States need not to be considered lightly. As such undoubtedly Japan occupies a vital strategic position in North-East Asia and continues to play a primary economic and political role in Asia Pacific immediate region. So, realizing this, Australia relentlessly works hard to encourage and continue endlessly for close dialogue with Japan on a wide range of political, economic, and strategic issues and the development, to the extent possible, of policies which are mutually reinforcing. Japan continues to be Australia’s major trading partner, accounting for some 16% by value of our total trade (exports plus imports) in 2000. It is a significant investor in

Australia and our largest source of in-bound tourism. The Japanese Government is taking more active role in regional and global security. It remains active in the war on terrorism. Japan increased its commitment to other part of the world such as Iraq, both financially and through the deployment of elements of the Japanese Self-Defense Force in non-combat roles. The Japanese Self-Defense contributions to peacekeeping effort are quite positive. On the other hand the strategic relationship with the United States continues to develop through increased interoperability, harmonization of Japanese and US capabilities and cooperation in missile defense.

Australia’s partnership with Japan reflects the broad alignment of Australian and Japanese strategic, political and economic interests in the Asia-Pacific region. Like Australia, Japan supports the long-term strategic engagement of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region and recognizes the fundamental contribution that it makes to regional stability. Japan also shares our interest in advancing the APEC forum as the primary vehicle for economic cooperation in the Asia Pacific region. The Australia-Japan Conference for the 21st Century was held in Sydney on 29 and 30 April 2001 to chart new directions – strategic, economic, cultural, educational and scientific – for the relationship.

The Conference Declaration, ‘The Sydney Declaration for Australia-Japan Creative Partnership’, set out a comprehensive action agenda: to strengthen economic relations, including through a trade and investment facilitation agreement; to expand dialogue and cooperation on security; and to increase people-to-people links. The Prime Minister’s visit to Japan in August 2001 built further on these links. The Factors Shaping Its Development and the Challenges to Be Met To Ensure Its Effective Implementation. In today dynamic environment more quite often the failure of existing international institutions to provide confidence in collective security arrangements has prompted an increasing resort to coalitions-of-the-willing to resolve issues of common concern. As such anticipating and meeting hallenges to Australia’s security remains a demanding task. Some of the crucial factors shaping Australia defense planning in general include the war on terrorism, proliferation of nuclear weapons and weapon of mass destruction The war on terrorism continues unabated on many fronts. Successive terrorist attacks in NewYork, Washington, Jakarta, Bali, Madrid, London and elsewhere since 2001 have demonstrated clearly that no country is immune from experiencing the debacle and horrors of non state actor such international terrorism. The threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction has yet to be defeated as some states still seek to acquire a nuclear weapons capability.

Longstanding issues, including those relating to the Middle East, North Korea, Iran and Taiwan, remain the subject of international tension. Many countries, including in the Asia-Pacific region, continue to struggle to create the conditions they need for stable economic and political development. Issues of economic downturn, human trafficking, human migration, drugs smuggling, environmental issues, overlapping claimed, boundary disputes are among current issues that need to be emphasize and handle diplomatically and strategically. These imperatives are among many challenges faced by Australia. Analyse the Strengths and Limitations on Current Australian Policy

Australia employs its defence capability as the most potent of the range of instruments in order to promote and support its security interests. Among Australia strength include having a formidable Australian Defence Forces (ADF) which is able to meet all these policy and strategic needs. The ADF is capable of operating as a networked, joint force across information, air, land and maritime domains. It also has the capability to operate in environments that are complex and ambiguous, and where adversaries, including non-state adversaries, have increasingly lethal capabilities. Through continuing modernization, it needs to retain capability edge over potential rivals by having the elements of versatility[7]. robustness[8], jointness[9] and integration[10].

At all times it must maintain high levels of preparedness as demonstrated by ADF personnel whom have been deployed in many operations, including those in East Timor, Bougainville, Afghanistan, the Middle East and Iraq, the Solomon Islands, and the Sudan to mention a few. Several of these operations have been concurrent. On the other hand, there have been continuing border security tasks, natural disaster relief operations and contributions to long-running UN peacekeeping or peace-monitoring operations in the Sinai and elsewhere in the Middle East. Other role includes supporting domestic security operations such as those for the Olympic Games and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. Some of the constraints include growing cost pressures on the defense budget.

This consequently affects the rising cost of ‘state of the art’ military equipment, particularly capabilities essential for the ADF’s capacity to develop and operate as a superior networked force. The other aspects is the recruitment and retention of an evermore technically capable force amidst of a strong and growing economy, will surely become more challenging Thirdly is to ensure the most efficient use of resources posses a significant challenge to the ADF. Australia Strategic Alliance Priority to Chinese or Japan Australia security accord with Japan has been greeted with much controversy over Australia’s actions and intentions of containing China.

These two Asian major powers have brought back the shadows of “Cold War” language of fundamental power relations and strategic competition within the Asia region. However rivalry could be restricted to peaceful economic competition for economic resources. According to Jieh-Yung Lo[11] (2007) China and Japan produce an environment of bi-polar Asia and putting Australia with the dilemma of balancing its national interests in the face of this strategic competition. All this while Japan has become a long time trusted partners in the Asia-Pacific region. Japan and Australia share a common interest in regional stability and prosperity. And today, Australia and Japan enjoy one of the most significant economic and strategic partnerships in Asia.

As can be seen in July 2003 besides the latest security accord, Australia and Japan concluded a Trade and Economic Framework to set directions for the future development of the bilateral trade relationship. On the contrary Australia recognizes that both China and Japan are important to its foreign policy and defense policy in the region and shares a growing and thriving relationship with China and on the other side of the coin have a stable relationship with Japan. Australia is very clear where its interests lie and tends to see economics and security as separate issues. It welcomes China’s growth, but believes that Japan and the United States should remain influential players in regional affairs. 12] Conclusion From the discussion above it can be seen that it is essential for Australia to form up a formidable defense planning which must provide for both the needs of the present and the possibilities of the future into the uncharted territory. In my opinion thus Australia strategic alliance with Japan is most crucial and prioritized compare to with China. It is based on many elements of shared values and interests between Japan and Australia. I cogently believed the relationship will still remain the cornerstone of Australia strategic partnership in order to foster and enhance further regional security and stability in the Asian region.

Bear in mind that a country’s effectiveness and influence in international affairs is determined by a combination of tangible and intangible factors including its reputation, its geographic size and population, the size and success of its economy, its strategic culture and its defense capability. I can foresee that Australia will continue to work to support the Asia-Pacific region in addressing threats of terrorism, weapons proliferation and the challenge of failing states. In an ever more inter-related world, threats to our neighbours are threats to us among which include the threat of proliferation of WMD within the region and in supporting fragile and vulnerable states.

Whether fighting terrorism, piracy, transnational crime, international drug syndicates or people smugglers, effective defense policy remains a key tool of the Australian Government. As such it is importantly and uniquely for Australia to form up a smart partnership and strategic alliance with another countries in this case among one of the major powers in Asia region the most important is Japan if compare to China. In building war fighting capacity to respond to possible future threats, undoubtedly the right defense policy framework will still remains the primary instrument of the Australian Government and will therefore continue to have a central role to play in protecting and assuring Australia’s national goals of a peaceful, stable and increasingly prosperous region.

However China as an emerging economic power with it renowned of its military might of course also play a vital role in destabilize the East Asian region and have great influence on the North Koreas and its proliferation nuclear issues cannot be totally ignored. I strongly believe that that a good ongoing relationship with Australia-China is still very useful and Australia need to diligently and willingly maintain a role in influencing China to a certain extent. There is evident in Australia’s growing economic and political relationship with China in terms of trade and regional affairs. I also believe that strategic competition between China and Japan will continue to be dominant factors and shape the security and future stability in the region. On present trends, I believe China has reasons to be confidence. Bibliography Books

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