Asia Minute: Australia’s New Foreign Policy White Paper

Nov 24, 2017

Australia's Parliament House in Canberra
Credit Wikipedia

Australia has produced a foreign policy “white paper,” laying out policy priorities for the government. And while it doesn’t mention the U.S. president by name, his thinking was clearly an influence. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

 


Australia seems concerned about the United States pulling back from the Asia Pacific.

In its first foreign policy white paper in 14 years, it says “the government recognizes there is a greater debate and uncertainty in the United States about the costs and benefits of its leadership in parts of the international system.”

In some ways, there are few surprises in the document.

It asserts that the starting point of Australia’s security is its relationship with the United States. But it’s also realistic about regional dynamics—while the United States has been the dominant Pacific power since the end of World War two, it adds, quote, “Today, China is challenging America’s position.”

And Australia warns a more insular United States would not be helpful, writing “without sustained U.S. support, the effectiveness and liberal character of the rules-based order will decline.”

The paper also urges closer partnerships with like-minded countries in the region—writing “the government will lift the ambition of our engagement with major Indo-Pacific democracies.”

That part fits in with developments involving the United States—including the recently re-invigorated “Asia-Indo Pacific Quad.”

At gatherings in Manila this month, senior officials from four regional democracies met to discuss regional cooperation.

That included Australia, India, Japan, and the United States.