Aiding our ally: some options for Australia

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(This article first appeared in the Australian Journal of Defence and Strategic Studies and is republished with the permission of the author. Page breaks and footnotes appear as in the original.)

By Jonathan Earley*

The Indo-Pacific regional order is under significant strain. The relative influence of the United States is in decline and an increasingly assertive China is leveraging its economic rise and growing military capabilities to challenge existing norms and impose its own rules as the new regional hegemon.1 President Xi has openly stated the US-led security architecture and order has ‘outlived its utility’ in stabilising the region and is actively promoting China as an alternative to US leadership.2 On the other hand, the US has yet to implement an effective strategic response that closes the gap between its ‘ends and means’ in addressing China’s rise. For decades the US has relied on naval mastery of the maritime domain as one of the key pillars to sustain its global hegemonic status.3 But with China modernising its military capabilities and projecting presence well beyond its territorial waters, the dominance of the US Navy is now under contest and a new policy approach is needed.

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