Closer Australia-Japan security ties dance to US’ tune
Published: Oct 20, 2022 07:42 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

It is widely anticipated that Japan and Australia will strengthen their bilateral defense and security partnership during Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's visit to Perth, Australia, from Friday to Saturday. A new security agreement will be reached and it will be a revamp of the previous document signed in 2007, media reported.

Unlike the 2007 version, which stipulates cooperation in such areas as counter-terrorism, the new security deal is aimed at realizing a "free and open" Indo-Pacific region, Reuters quoted Nikkei as reporting. The Japan Times put it more bluntly, "Concerns over China bringing Japan and Australia's relations ever closer." If it mirrors anything, it is that Tokyo and Canberra are blindly dancing to the US tune without their own diplomatic ideas, or even autonomy.

Fifteen years ago, the US strategic focus was believed to be on anti-terrorism, so Japan and Australia's defense cooperation was about counter-terrorism. Fifteen years later, the US is promoting its "Indo-Pacific Strategy," so it is simply natural the two allies of Washington are following suit.

Nevertheless, Japan and Australia have their own calculations in promoting their bilateral defense cooperation. The US has been fooling Australia with lies that it would help make the latter a world power. Australia, on the other hand, willingly takes the bait.

Japan views China as its rival, hoping to contain China and make itself once again the No.1 power in Asia. But as Tokyo lacks strength to reach this goal, it is taking advantage of US support. In other words, Japan and the US are making use of each other.

Japan also wants to sell weapons and equipment to Australia, as Australia is one of world's largest arms importers, thus is a prospective market for Japan.

The US is the invisible hand behind the upgrade of Japan-Australia mutual defense ties. Japan and Australia are both Quad members. Boosting their ties in terms of military and defense could better promote the US-led multilateral military alliance to counter China.

Many reports point out that the enhanced Japan-Australia cooperation includes sharing military intelligence assessments, which will not only help Japan cooperate with and even integrate into the "Five Eyes," but also promote the US global intelligence network. The US seeks to gang up with all of its allies to jointly contain China, and an essential component of military cooperation is intelligence sharing.

The US has long portrayed China as a "threat" to the Indo-Pacific region and as a potential "threat" to Australia and Japan's interests. This "China threat" theory is accepted by Japan and Australia. From their perspective, China's rise will undermine US hegemony. The two countries have benefitted from US hegemonic rules, thus they are terrified of China's development and cannot view China's development in good faith.

However, they are making the wrong decisions and are miscalculating. Peaceful coexistence with China is more in line with their own security and economic interests. China consistently pursues a path of peaceful development, and China's growth presents a significant opportunity for all countries, including Japan and Australia. Building a community with a shared future for mankind is in fact a responsible statement that China has made to the world. The constant hype of the US and the extreme lack of confidence of some countries like Japan and Australia are the fundamental reason for them to view China as their biggest "imaginary enemy."

The US wants to make Japan and Australia its "unsinkable aircraft carriers." The selfish US is always calculating to make others sacrifice for itself. For this reason, it has constructed massive military bases in Australia and Japan. When Australia and Japan still seek to forge closer political, military, and economic links with the US, they failed to see the fact that the US is a self-centered and self-serving country. They will only fulfill the US wishes while destroying their own interests.

The author is a Beijing-based military expert and TV commentator. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn