Why US-Sino strategic competition is good for Australia

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Faced with an increasingly authoritarian and assertive China, the United States (US) under President Trump administration’s has embarked on a course toward a more openly competitive US–China relationship. However, the debate in Australia has viewed the new era of US-Sino strategic competition mostly negatively. Indeed, arguments have been made for a need to ‘radically’ rethink Australia’s defence policy in order to prepare for a ‘post-US-led’ regional order. For some analysts, Canberra has even no other choice than to adopt a strategy of ‘armed neutrality’ to deal with an emerging China-dominated regional order and a declining US, confused and unwilling to defend its allies. In contrast, this article argues that on balance Trump’s course correction on China is positive for Australia as the US is likely to maintain its robust engagement in the Indo-Pacific. While the president’s inconsistencies partly undermine US declaratory statements in regards to greater competition with China, a bipartisan consensus is likely to continue to shift US policy in this direction. While greater US-Sino competition requires Australia to assume greater responsibilities for regional security, radical changes to its defence policy and security alignment are not needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-448
Number of pages18
JournalAustralian Journal of International Affairs
Issue number5
Early online date26 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2019


  • Australian security and defence policy
  • Trump administration
  • US-Sino relations


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