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Sitting on the Fence? Australia’s Balancing of the Belt and Road Initiative and Indo-Pacific Strategy in the New Multipolar World System

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Rebalancing Asia

Abstract

Twenty-first century world politics is increasingly multipolar with the rise of China, Russia and other regional powers. In this new global and regional context, Australia’s relations with the United States (US) and China are increasingly important. Since its signing of the ANZUS security alliance in 1951, Australia has followed US foreign policy. Australia must now attempt to continue to follow its principal military ally while being increasingly economically reliant on China, its major export market. Although Australia is an island continent separate from Southeast Asia, its trade and wealth are dependent on Asian markets, especially China. Australia continues to serve a policing role in the Asia–Pacific region on behalf of the US. It is for this reason that Australia plays a crucial security role in Washington’s Indo-Pacific Strategy. Nevertheless, as China’s Belt and Road Initiative continues to develop globally and involves Australian infrastructure, Australia’s US dependency and foreign policy must be re-evaluated to focus on Australia’s positioning in the Asia–Pacific region. This chapter explores Australia’s precarious position poised between US geo-strategy and China’s global economic development. Although China is Australia’s primary economic partner, Australia is critical of China’s human rights record and its military expansion in the South China Sea and continues to serve the military security strategy of the US in the Indo-Pacific region. The twenty-first century heralded the arrival of the “Asian Century”, and Australia is both a key country in the Asia–Pacific region and in the struggle between China’s Belt and Road Initiative the US Indo-Pacific Strategy for dominance.

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Antonopoulos, P., García, A.G., Cottle, D. (2021). Sitting on the Fence? Australia’s Balancing of the Belt and Road Initiative and Indo-Pacific Strategy in the New Multipolar World System. In: Jaiswal, P., Bhatt, D.P. (eds) Rebalancing Asia. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-3757-5_14

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