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China threat off the Australian radar

By Christian Edwards (Xinhua)

09:46, May 04, 2013

SYDNEY, May 4 (Xinhua) -- Australia no longer sees a growing China as a potential military threat, shifting its defense posture to accommodate regional developments, according to an analysis of the 2013 Defense White Paper released this weekend.

The posture taken in the 2013 Defense White Paper backtracks on former prime minister Kevin Rudd's 2009 paper, which agonized over China's long-term strategic ambitions.

The 2009 Defense White Paper was seen as a diplomatic and strategic disaster, with its obsession with China's "pace, scope and structure" of military development.

However, the 2013 paper revealed a far more sober assessment of the region's strategic footing.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said China was far from a threat for Australia or its neighbors.

"We welcome China's rise... We seek to have a comprehensive and constructive engagement with China," Gillard told reporters.

Paul Dibb, author of the 1987 white paper, said the new paper was a vast step forward after the clumsy, often hostile approach of the 2009 version.

Dibb said it was obvious Australia did not regard China as an adversary and focused instead on the importance of working with regional players from Indonesia to India.

Australia had noted and shifted its defense posture to include the economic strategic and military shift to the Indo-Pacific; the Australian Defense Force's operational drawdown from Afghanistan, Timor Leste and Solomon Islands; the United States' re-balance to the Asia-Pacific; Australia's substantially enhanced practical cooperation with the United States pursuant to the Alliance relationship; and the ongoing adverse effects of the global financial crisis.

Hugh White, professor of strategic studies at Australian National University and a visiting fellow at the Lowy Institute maintained that China was not a threat to the region, but rather direct strategic competition between China and the United States posed the greatest dangers.

"The biggest risk is not that China becomes a direct threat to Australia but that the erosion of American power unleashes strategic competition among Asia's strongest states, which in turn increases the risk that Australia could face a number of military threats to its interests, even its territorial security," White said.

Gillard acknowledged the U.S.-China relationship would determine the future of the Asia-Pacific.

"We also recognize that China's rise and its subsequent military modernization is changing the strategic order of our region, and that the U.S.-China relationship is pivotal to our region of the world," She said.

In terms of hardware, the paper also called for the purchase of the advanced F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and the one-point-five billion dollar purchase of 12 more Super Hornets with Growler electronic warfare technology.

But Australia has scrapped another air warfare destroyer, while determining to obtain 12 new submarines.

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:HuangBeibei、Yao Chun)

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  1. Name

Wende at 2013-05-0498.109.105.*
Don"t be too sure. Western countries are using "wheel" method of attacking China. They alternate and they start attack after they got the deals. China must know it can renegade on these deals even when there are signed. Just give a good reason such as running out of budget.
Kamal at 2013-05-04182.72.163.*
Australians dont know chinese govt plan they will suffer laterly.

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