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Pacific Rim: strategic alliances « Previous | |Next »
June 13, 2008

Hugh White has a good op-ed in The Australian about the strategic balance of power in the Asia Pacific Rim. He says that Tokyo's vision of is a regional alliance to constrain China. The Japanese, he says:

... are deeply anxious that China will use its growing regional influence to push Japan into a permanently subordinate place under China's strategic thumb....they seem to expect that as China's power dilutes and perhaps eventually eclipses US primacy in Asia, China will exercise some kind of hegemony over Japan. No one in Japan could accept that. That is why Japan is keen to build, with America, a coalition in Asia to resist China's challenge to American primacy. It very much wants Australia to be part of this coalition...Terrified that better Sino-US relations may leave them unprotected, Japan now believes that its security depends on suspicion and hostility between Washington and Beijing.

Australia's strategic interest lies in a vibrant, strategic relationship with a strong and active Japan and the same kind of relationship with China. White argues that Rudd missed an opportunity to start a serious conversation with Japan about our future relationship, to address the differences over the shape of the new Asia, and how Tokyo's vision of a regional alliance to constrain China carries immense risks for the region.

White argues that there is no alternative but to work towards a new political and strategic order in Asia based on the maximum convergence between Washington and Beijing as well as providing a substantial and secure place for Japan.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:17 AM | | Comments (5)


I have a great deal of respect for Hugh White's views but it's fair to point out that this week was not an ideal time to have serious conversations with Mr Fukuda. The Upper House passed a motion on Wednesday censuring him, the first time this has happened to a Japanese prime minister. While it is not binding, Fukuda's electoral popularity has dropped to dangerously low levels and he may have more immediate things on his mind that how the long term Japanese-Australian relationship will evolve.

I'm under the impression that internal political problems were the reason Rudd didn't visit Japan earlier, is that right?

yes you are right. But I get the feeling that Rudd is playing the spin card is more than the national interest card. The media management is pretty extensive. He could have raised the issue at his media conferences as something that needs to be addressed by saying that three great powers - China, India, and Japan - coexist uneasily in Asia and that all three are beefing up their militaries with consciousness of one another as a prime motive.

The Western assumption is that the US is the sole stabilizer in the Asia Pacific Rim.

Lyn it probably goes deeper than that. Canberra is on the nose in the Asia Pacific region outside of China. He is seen as a sinophile

Thanks Gary. I'd wondered whether he was really seen that way or whether it just seemed like it because Greg Sheridan said so.

It's a pitiful state of affairs when we have to rely on foreign media to find out stuff about ourselves.