GT Voice: Cold War mentality will cost Australia economic growth
Published: Feb 23, 2022 08:15 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

It seems that France's grudge against Australia for suffering the collateral loss of the latter's AUKUS deal with the UK and the US is likely to generate more long-term consequences than first expected.

France removed Australia from its list of close "strategic partners" in an updated version of its official Indo-Pacific strategy as tensions between the two countries remains since their AUKUS clash in September, The Independent reported on Wednesday.

"Australia's decision ... has led to a re-evaluation of the past strategic partnership [between] the two countries." the French government said, adding it would now cooperate with Australia on a "case-by-case basis."

While Australia's geographical position may make it look like a natural partner for those eyeing the Indo-Pacific, France's decision to dump Australia as a "strategic partner" clearly indicates that its role is not indispensable to their regional strategy if Canberra only cares about how to maintain its relationship with the US. 

And, given the fact that France is one of the major powers in Europe and has dominant influence within the EU, France's continuing anger toward Canberra doesn't bode well for the latter's potential cooperation with Europe.

Politicians in Canberra may tell their people they have proved their ideological values by being high-note in pursuing an anti-China stance, but what they won't tell them is that there is an increasingly narrow window of opportunity for Australia to engage in global economic cooperation thanks to their recklessness and short sightedness. 

Over the years, Australia's hostility toward China has seriously damaged its relationship with China, and its betrayal over submarines with France has poisoned its ties with Paris. The confusing aspect is that Australia has not followed its own national interests, but instead chosen to pander to the US.

It is Canberra's wishful thinking to believe the US will help it recover the losses incurred by their provocations against important trading partners. If they don't take their own interests seriously, why should anyone else care?

From the perspective of Australia's long-term development strategy, it cannot always follow the US, being sided with it, which will deprive it off many development opportunities. If Canberra wants to play a major role in the Asia-Pacific region or even a greater role globally so as to benefit its economy, it cannot continue with its Cold War mentality and roping in allies to attack others.

If Canberra continues to follow the US and choose potential partners based solely on ideological bias, then the country will lose much of the opportunities when it comes to global cooperation with others, especially with China.

Against the backdrop of the global action against climate change, Australia's resource industries are facing an arduous transition that could be both difficult and expensive. If the country does not have the opportunity to be extensively engaged in global cooperation, the transition will face more uncertainties on the road.

That is the strategic choice facing all Australians, who still have the time to change course. But the key is whether politicians in Canberra have the political wisdom to make the right choice.