Australia has unveiled its biggest defense overhaul in decades in response to changing geopolitics. Experts believe that Australia’s plan to strengthen its navy and air force demonstrates its intention for national defense independence and actively joins the democratic camp in the Indo-Pacific region to jointly deal with the threats posed by China’s rise.
Redefining Defense Goals
The Australian government released a “Defense Strategic Review” (Defense Strategic Review) report on April 24, including that the Australian Defense Force (Australian Defense Force) is formulating a new defense strategy, changing from “defensive” to “offensive” to Respond to changing geopolitics. Throughout the assessment, China is directly mentioned nine times.
“China’s military expansion is now the largest and most ambitious international threat since the end of World War II. This military expansion is taking place without transparency, and Beijing has not made its strategic intentions clear to countries in the Indo-Pacific region,” the report states. “
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) pointed out that the purpose of Australia’s strategic review report is to deal with the growing military threat from China.
Li-chia Lo, a researcher at the Center for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra in Australia, told Voice of America that before the report came out, Australia’s national defense goals basically revolved around preventing Australia from being invaded; after the 9/11 incident, national defense Goal changed to “War on Terror”. In terms of international military intervention, most of them follow the United States and send troops to different countries to perform tasks. He believes that this report is almost redefining Australia’s national defense goals, because military conflicts in any region (especially the Indo-Pacific region) will seriously affect Australia’s security, so the new national defense strategy is based on “threats that endanger the overall interests of the country.” The goal is to maintain the existing order and security in the region, and to enhance national defense capabilities to deter threats that may change the regional balance.
Luo Lijia said: “From the perspective of safeguarding the overall interests of the country, Australia (Australia) has changed its policy of sending troops abroad, looking at the air and sea, establishing Australia’s defense network from these two aspects, strengthening the navy and introducing long-range missiles. Luo
Lijia pointed out that although “Taiwan” did not appear in the report, and “South China Sea” only appeared once, a map of the Indo-Pacific region centered on Australia was placed on page 27 of the report to express the ruling The ambitions shown by the Labor Party in this report have encompassed the entire Indo-Pacific region.
Chen Wenjia, a scholar of Indo-Pacific strategy and a senior consultant of Taiwan National Policy Research Institute, believes that China has become the biggest geopolitical challenge in the Indo-Pacific region. Its opaque military policy and aggressive expansion have led to tension in the region, causing Australia to be extremely vigilant. It cannot be watched from the sidelines because it is located in the southern hemisphere.
He told the Voice of America: “It seems that Australia has abandoned its previous geopolitical view of self-sacrifice and chose to join the Indo-Pacific to jointly deal with the threat posed by China’s rise. Sea), the Taiwan Strait to the South China Sea (South China Sea), Australia is actively cooperating with the United States and other allies to form a new defense system, and at the same time continue to strengthen cooperation with allies in the latest defense policy direction to maintain the Indo-Pacific region. Peace and stability.”
Huang Huihua, an associate researcher at Taiwan’s International Institute for Strategic Studies, said in an interview with Voice of America that the report mentioned the expansion and renovation of military bases and naval bases in northern Australia, which will benefit the power projection of Australia and the United States. From the South Pacific to other seas, including the South China Sea. In the entire Indo-Pacific region, Australia will build a quick-reaction force that can act independently and jointly operate with the United States and allies, which will also complement Japan’s defense.
Huang Huihua said: “For Japan, Australia plays the role of making up for the limited capabilities of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. In the event of future conflicts in the East China Sea (East China Sea) or the Taiwan Strait, the actions of Australia’s ‘quick response’ forces will have a negative impact on the US-Japan alliance. Very important. For Australia, military cooperation with Japan in Northeast Asia opens a door of opportunity for Australia to expand its influence in the Indo-Pacific region.” Huang Huihua believes that this report shows that Australia’s role in Indo-Pacific security
will It is more important, and Australia must face the strategic choice under the confrontation between the United States and China.
The strategic choice between the US and China
On April 16, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong delivered her first major speech this year at the National Press Club. She said that the Indo-Pacific region should not be reduced to a binary competition field between the United States and China, and should not be dominated by a single power. She said Australia wanted to work with other mid-sized countries, including in Southeast Asia, to deter aggression from outside the region.
Huang Huihua, an associate researcher at the Taiwan Institute for International Strategic Studies, believes that Australia has to make a strategic choice between the United States and China. Therefore, Australia adjusts its military policy and strengthens the role of the national security system. From this, it can be seen that the strategic interests of the United States and Australia are highly overlapping. sex.
Huang Huihua said: “Australian Foreign Minister Huang Yingxian is unwilling to talk about the situation of strategic choice, because this is not a choice between two countries, but an ideological choice between ‘democracy and autocracy’.” Chen Wenjia, a scholar of Indo-Pacific strategy, believes that
this This report shows that Australia avoids strategic choices between the United States and China, emphasizing security cooperation with regional allies to deal with immediate regional security issues.
He said: “As one of the major countries in the Indo-Pacific region, Australia can strengthen cooperation with India, Japan, ASEAN countries and other regional countries in future security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region to establish an effective multilateral security mechanism. In this way The mechanism can improve trust among regional countries and jointly address security challenges.”
Chen Wenjia believes that Australia, like Japan, is gradually moving towards more strategic autonomy.
Luo Lijia, an expert on Australia-China relations, said that the confrontation between the United States and China is the background of this report. The expansion of China’s military power is a threat to regional instability, but the United States is no longer a unipolar power, and regional security cannot rely solely on the United States. Australia’s plan to strengthen its navy and air force this time shows an attempt at national defense independence.
Luo Lijia said: “The core concepts are ‘threat’ and ‘deterrence’, which is to use deterrence to reduce the risks that threats may bring. Corresponding to the Indo-Pacific foreign policy of the current Labor Party, it is to maintain the status quo while maintaining the status quo. , especially the joint deterrence based on the premise of the independence of the national defense of allies, to ensure the balance of power and peace in the region.”
Luo Lijia pointed out that this is also the first continuation of the Australia-UK-U.S. Tripartite Security Alliance (AUKUS) signed by the previous Morrison government. , After further implementing the nuclear submarine cooperation plan for the next 30 years, the reason why the national defense strategy review report will be released in a short period of time. He believes that Australia’s actions can indeed attract allies of similar value to maintain the status quo, but in the long run, it is easy to fall into the trap of an arms race. When strengthening weapons, you should also clearly define “threat
Armored forces shifted to “long-range attack capabilities, use Australian homemade ammunition, and achieve self-sufficiency goals”.
Australian defense industry minister Pat Conroy (Pat Conroy) said on April 24 that the increase in long-range attack capabilities “is to give the Australian military the firepower and mobility it needs in the future to deal with all possible attacks.”
Huang Huihua, an associate researcher at the Taiwan Institute for International Strategic Studies, said that Australia used to be relatively comfortable due to its geographical location, but now many countries have long-range and precise strike missiles, which has prompted Australia and China to pay more attention to national security-related technology research and development in recent years.
She said: “Australia’s national defense science and technology research and development policy has the strategic intention of an arms race and military balance with China and Russia. The arms race that China or Russia faces is not just the United States, but the powerful Indo-Pacific strategic alliance countries behind the United States. “
Huang Huihua pointed out that one of the key points of the report is “creating opportunities for the development and use of new technologies in the defense field”, including the joint development of hypersonic weapons with the United States. The agreement on testing cooperation, and the formation of the Australia-UK-U.S. trilateral security alliance in 2021 with the purpose of military technology transfer, and the hypersonic cruise missile jointly developed by the U.S. and Australia are all within the development plan. In the future, we will see more improvements in Australia’s defense capabilities .
Luo Lijia, a researcher at the Center for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra in Australia, said that according to this report, the establishment of targets for missile systems, especially long-range missile systems, is similar to the practice of the Australia-UK-U. Through allies providing experience, knowledge and technology, resources and talents, and locally manufacturing in Australia, it will fundamentally improve Australia’s national defense strength, scientific research and technology capabilities, and build a strong talent pool. He pointed out that these goals are affirmed, but whether Australia has enough time, budget and manpower to complete this task at an urgent pace will be an important key.
Luo Lijia said: “The current plan is to see initial results within 10 years, but this pace seems to be unable to keep up with the speed of China’s military expansion. Faced with such a situation, is the plan proposed by the current government just on paper? Or is it a hope? Through this report, can the urgency of the threat be further strengthened, thereby accelerating the process of improving national defense capabilities?”
Luo Lijia believes that the problem lies in the current government’s lack of clear definition of “threat”, using “deterrence” as a means, but avoiding it. Not to mention the preparation and will required to actually fight. He emphasized that if there is no determination to fight, deterrence will have no effect. Australia’s prime minister has promised to launch a new report in two years time, hoping to have a clear definition of “threat”.