Beijing’s aggression and Washington's empty chairs. @richardfontaine @cnasdc @gordongchang

Oct 12, 04:20 AM


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Beijing’s aggression and Washington's empty chairs. @richardfontaine @cnasdc @gordongchang

The next phase of U.S. strategy toward Asia should focus on embedding America’s alliances and nascent security relationships into a broader network of security partnerships, which is particularly appealing to countries like Australia and Japan.

Aside from the United States, Australia and Japan are now each other’s leading security partners. While the United States has been supportive of their growing warmth, Canberra and Tokyo have come to this relationship very much of their own initiative. Australia has welcomed Japan’s efforts to return to a more “normal” defense posture and take on a greater security leadership role in Asia, while acknowledging that Japan’s constitution continues to impose limits on the scope of its activities.36 Japan, for its part, has sought to cooperate with Aus- tralia across a spectrum of military and information-sharing activities.

At the heart of this alignment is a shared interest in continued regional engagement from the United States and a desire to see its security guarantees remain credible. Japan and Australia also share democratic values and are strong advocates for international law, institutions, and other aspects of inter- national order.37 Policymakers in both countries worry openly about Beijing’s actions in the South and East China Seas as well as its economic inroads in Southeast Asia. As North Korea has continued its pursuit of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, Australia has grown more concerned and is increasingly expressing interest in supporting Japan’s approach to the quandary.38 Their deepest shared security interest, however, may lie in managing Asia’s shifting power dynamics. The closer Japan-Australia partnership is a balancing response to China’s growing strength, and it simultaneously reinforces the existing U.S. alliance system while hedging against the prospect of U.S. decline or withdrawal.39

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