The 2013 Defence White Paper, which defines the Australian government’s strategic military orientation, codifies its unconditional support for the Obama administration’s “pivot” to Asia. The document asserts that “the relationship between the United States and China will determine the outlook for our region”, over the coming decades, and foreshadows that Australia will serve as the military adjunct and physical base for US efforts to dominate the entire “Indo-Pacific”. It stresses the importance of collaboration with the US, as well as states such as India, in controlling the key maritime trade passages between the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
The unstated purpose of both US and Australian policy is to threaten China with an economic blockade and military confrontation on a range of issues, from the status of Taiwan, to territorial disputes in the South China and East China Seas. US imperialism, which is undergoing a historic economic decline, is determined to prevent China’s economic and military expansion from enabling Beijing to supplant Washington as the dominant power in Asia since the end of World War II.
Seeming to contradict such an assessment, the Australian White Paper asserts that the “government does not approach China as an adversary”. It declares that Australia “welcomes” the rise of China and insists that “the most likely future,” is one where Washington and Beijing “are able to maintain a constructive relationship”.
Much of the commentary in the establishment media has focussed on this language, summed up in headlines such as “Defence paper softens Australia’s China stance”. A less optimistic appraisal was made in the previous 2009 White Paper. Authored amid the economic fall-out from the global financial crisis, that document openly expressed fears within the Australian ruling class that China’s rise posed the danger of war.
China, the 2009 paper emphasised, would emerge by 2030 not only as the world’s largest economy but “the strongest Asian military power”. There was, it declared, a “small but still concerning possibility of growing confrontation” between China, Russia, India, Japan and the US, as they competed in the vacuum left by the wane of American influence. It warned of the possibility of “high-intensity wars among the major powers”, and labelled China’s military expansion as a “potential cause for concern”–a formulation that provoked protests from the Chinese regime on the basis that it defined China as a threat.
The 2009 document reflected the foreign policy stance of then prime minister, Kevin Rudd. Rudd had championed the
This article originally appeared on : Global Research