What is Australia up to?

Cleo Paskal outlines the West’s fears as a key ally develops closer links with China

The World Today
Published 28 September 2017 Updated 23 November 2020 5 minute READ

Cleo Paskal

Former Associate Fellow, Environment and Society Programme and Asia-Pacific Programme

Something is going on Down Under. In the past few months, a constant stream of serious Washington players have passed through Australia, including Vice-President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Senator John McCain, former CIA Director David Petraeus and former US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

This many high-level visits in such a short period of time is highly unusual. The reason was summed up by the oft-repeated message: watch out for China and don’t forget who your real friends are.

McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said: ‘The challenge is that as China has grown wealthier and stronger, it seems to be acting more and more like a bully … the real question is whether Australia and America are better off dealing with China’s strategic and economic challenges together, or by ourselves.’

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