Japan, Australia’s new defense agreement sends a message to China: analyst

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A senior analyst at an Australian think tank said on Friday that the new defense agreement between Australia and Japan sends a strong message to China that the two countries will work closely to ensure stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida almost met with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday. The two countries have signed a Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA), which will pass the necessary domestic procedures before it takes effect “as soon as possible.”

Malcolm Davis of the Australian Institute for Strategic Policy said the agreement will pave the way for closer defense relations between the two countries, because the Japanese and Australian forces can deploy from each other’s bases and establish a mutual agreement.

“More importantly, this RAA’s strategic message to the region-Japan and Australia are working more closely to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” Davis said in CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” program Say.

“This is happening in the context of China’s rise. China has territorial disputes in the South China Sea and East China Sea. Japan and China have territorial disputes. Of course, in these areas, China is more confident and even aggressive. Taiwan,” he added.

On January 6, 2022, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison presented a document at a virtual summit held in Canberra with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

AFP | Getty Images

“I fully expect the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make some brief statements in Beijing,” Davis said, referring to China’s possible response to the Australia-Japan defense agreement, which has been in place for many years.

He added: “They won’t like this, but frankly, we make our defense policy choices based on Australia’s needs rather than what China is satisfied with.”

What is the Indo-Pacific region?

Davis said these arrangements “send a strong message to Beijing that the United States, Britain, Japan and other major powers are working together to do a lot.” First, they show that countries are committed to building a stable, free, and open Indo-Pacific region; second, they play a deterrent effect on China in disputes including Taiwan.

“Third, to be able to react when threats do arise,” he added.

Curtis Chin, an Asian researcher at the Milken Institute, said on CNBC’s “Asian Signpost” program on Friday that Taiwan is at the forefront of discussions as the United States, Japan and Australia strengthen their relations with each other.

“If China is to speak freely, I think they will obviously be worried,” he added.

China’s influence continues to increase

In recent years, Beijing has become increasingly aggressive in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

Last year, President Xi Jinping vowed to “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan, which caused an angry response from the latter.

China sees Taiwan as a separate province, while Taiwan sees itself as separate from China and has been an autonomous island since it split from the mainland after a prolonged civil war in 1949.

Davis of ASPI told CNBC that a big problem is that China may take certain actions against Taiwan-and the existing security agreements and arrangements in the Indo-Pacific region may “enhance the credibility of deterrence.”

Some political analysts said that the growing tension between the United States and China over the Taiwan issue will be the biggest risk facing Asia this year.

In terms of economy, China is a member of the largest trade agreement in the world-the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. Including many countries in the Indo-Pacific region. Beijing is also lobbying to join another major trade agreement in the region.

The United States does not participate in these two trade agreements.

China also has an ambitious plan called “One Belt One Road”, which aims to build physical and digital infrastructure connecting hundreds of countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe, and to expand China’s influence in these regions.

Chin of the Milken Institute explained that although most of the discussion revolves around how other countries are responding to a rising China, it is important to look at the problems that the country faces at home.

This includes its efforts to contain the Covid outbreak and its efforts to get the economy back on track-economists worry that problems in the real estate market and weak consumption may put pressure on China’s growth prospects.

However, Chin stated that he hopes that by 2022, all parties involved will “take a step back and realize that this is [to] If what some people call the emerging cold war turns into a hot war in the Asia-Pacific region, it will not benefit anyone. “

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