Security threats and challenges to Australia

Andrew T. H. Tan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


As a middle power in Asia, Australia’s security and the future challenges that it faces are linked to developments in both its regional and global environments. The fundamental changes in the international system present serious challenges for Australia, a country that has had a long-established pattern of reliance on a great power ally and on a Western-dominated international system. The challenge is how Australia can break with long-established habits and long-held perspectives to meet the threats arising from the changes to its geo-strategic environment. The key drivers that will shape Australia’s security environment to 2035 include: the roles of the US and China, and their relationship; challenges to the stability of the rules-based global order; the enduring threat of terrorism; state fragility (especially within Australia’s immediate neighbourhood); the pace of military modernization and development of more capable regional military forces; and the emergence of new complex, non-geographic threats, such as cyber threats and pandemics. This points to the need for a very resilient society, is also what would be able to meet the challenges of unexpected Black Swan events and developments. The current Australian policy of continuing security reliance on the United States while taking steps to build a multilateral coalition of like-minded states to help bolster the faltering regional order and maintain the status quo in the face of China’s attempts to reshape the regional order to better serve its interests looks to be, on balance, a calibrated and correct one. Whether this will serve Australia in the future as the strategic balance continues to shift, particularly in the wake of the global pandemic in 2020 however, remains to be seen.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe future of the United States-Australia alliance
Subtitle of host publicationevolving security strategy in the Indo-Pacific
EditorsScott D. McDonald, Andrew T. H. Tan
Place of PublicationLondon ; New York
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9780429317521
ISBN (Print)9780367322519
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • security threats
  • challenges
  • Australia
  • China
  • United States
  • Asia
  • Indo-Pacific


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