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Australia's vanguard role proof of unsustainability of US 'small gang' approach

| 作者: Lin Duo; Zhang Tengjun | 时间: 2021-12-14 | 责编:
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  Australia was promised by the US that it will not lose its sovereignty under the AUKUS deal. Kurt Campbell, a top adviser to the US president Joe Biden as the coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs, said Canberra will not suffer economic consequences as it recklessly provokes Beijing. The Down Under lost 1.5 points in Lowy’s Asia Power Index 2021, with economic capability and future resources measures as its lowest rankings.

  Clearly, the US is deeply concerned about the plummeting China-Australian relationship on Australia’s interests and is eager to steady its ally. The US statement touched on the fundamental issue of AUKUS: has Australia lost its sovereignty in the tripartite cooperation? Have Australia’s national interests increased or been damaged after reneging on its deal with France?

  Apparently, Australia has not seriously introspected and continues to promote AUKUS despite criticism that Canberra did too much following the US to contain China, sacrificing part of its sovereignty in diplomacy and defense. The US, UK and Australia signed the Exchange of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information Agreement (ENNPIA) on November 22 to establish a legally binding framework for the disclosure and use of information related to naval nuclear propulsion. The clauses in the agreement, which allow for the tripartite sharing of information on naval nuclear technology, have raised concerns that there will be no submarines or options for defense if the other party decides to terminate the agreement. If Australia has any autonomy, it is the autonomy to bear the full consequences.

  Australia is playing the role of a vanguard in the US Indo-Pacific Strategy at all costs and trying to fawn on the US on other China-related issues, such as the Taiwan question and “diplomatic boycott” of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, leading to a continued deterioration in China-Australia relations.

  However, a new report by an Australian think tank revealed that from January to September 2021, China’s importation of 12 Australian goods fell by $12.6 billion, while the US increased sales of the same goods to China by $4.6 billion. Canada and New Zealand have also seized the market share of China. Australian politicians should stop concealing the nature of AUKUS from the public while the international community should see its true nature as the US is profiting from it.

  What the US did reflects the exhaustion of the US toolbox. The US is less capable of competing with China on its own and “decoupling” from China as it faces domestic governance crises with a weak economic recovery, rising fiscal risks and sharp social contradictions. Despite the necessity to share costs with allies and partners, the US is clear on the reluctance of most countries to sacrifice their interests in China so has to pursue a small gang with greater control. The US needs loyal partners to be at the forefront taking the pressure from China.

  In the end, the US conceals its purpose of “America First” with the card of “multilateralism.” But the more frequently the US plays this card, the more discontented other countries will be, making this approach unsustainable.

  (Lin Duo is a research assistant of the Department for Asia-Pacific Studies at CIIS. Zhang Tengjun is the deputy director of the Department for Asia-Pacific Studies at CIIS. Source: Global Times, December 8, 2021.)

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