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Fri. May 17th, 2024

Australia has introduced its inaugural National Defence Strategy, indicating a shift in attention towards deterring China’s “coercive tactics” in a region marked by escalating tensions. The 80-page blueprint provides a somber evaluation of Pacific security and proposes a significant surge in defence expenditure to modernize Australia’s armed forces in response.

Defence Minister Richard Marles, while unveiling the strategy, remarked, “The optimistic assumptions that guided defence planning after the end of the Cold War are long gone.” Highlighting China’s use of coercive tactics for strategic gains, the document portrays Australia as susceptible to threats of impeding trade and blocking crucial air and sea routes.

Marles emphasized Australia’s status as a maritime trading island nation, stating, “The invasion of Australia is an unlikely prospect in any scenario, precisely because so much damage can be done to our country by an adversary without ever having to step foot on Australian soil.”

The strategy shifts focus from maintaining a versatile military to establishing a formidable deterrent force capable of safeguarding Australia’s interests in its immediate vicinity. Key components include the development of stealthy nuclear-powered submarines, a significant increase in missile capabilities, and the expansion of the surface combatant fleet.

Central to the strategy is the objective of rendering any assault against Australia’s interests excessively costly and hazardous. Defence spending, as a proportion of GDP, is slated to rise from approximately two percent to 2.4 percent over the next decade, fueling an arms race across the Pacific region.

With military expenditure in Asia and Oceania surging by 45 percent since 2013, Australia anticipates heightened risks of conflict in areas such as the Taiwan Strait, the South and East China Seas, and the border with India. Marles emphasized the elimination of long-held assumptions regarding strategic warning time for conflict, stating, “Australia no longer has the luxury of a 10-year window of strategic warning time.”

In response to inquiries regarding Australia’s strategy, Beijing urged restraint and cautioned against unfounded accusations. Foreign ministry spokesperson Lin Jian asserted, “China poses no threat to any country,” and encouraged Australia to adopt a balanced perspective on China’s development and strategic intentions to uphold regional peace and stability.

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