By Invitation

Australia's defence - with or without South-east Asia neighbours

With the US no longer a reliable ally, Canberra needs to review its defence strategy, including the pros and cons of regional alliances

Australia is rethinking its defence. Until now it has always relied on a Western power - first Britain, then America - to keep it safe from military aggression. But now America's position in Asia is waning too, just as Britain's once did, as China seeks to take its place as East Asia's primary power. For the first time, Australians must contemplate their future security in Asia without the support of an English-speaking global power.

The seriousness of China's strategic challenge to America is now becoming impossible for Australians to ignore. That is not just because US President Donald Trump is so erratic, or because of the swift loss of its traditional military predominance in the Western Pacific. Ultimately, it is because of the fundamental shift in relative power between China and the US.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2019, with the headline 'Australia's defence - with or without S-E Asia neighbours'. Print Edition | Subscribe