Shifting US-China Policy Postures: options for Australia
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 15:34 by Richard James Cleverly
International relations are passing through a crucial phase, specifically since the end of the Cold War in which the post-Second World War institutions and alliances are being increasingly challenged by the rising powers, particularly China. The rules-based order, mainly championed by the United States through its alliance system is being challenged externally by the countries like China and internally by the new administration of Donald John Trump.In a sense, a situation is arising in which China is challenging the existing world order by forwarding its sovereignty claims over the South China Sea and impinging on freedom of navigation, exerting pressure against the US alliance system as well as leveraging its relation with trade and investment. This thesis identifies and examines Trump's postures that could most affect Australia and the Asia-Pacific, focusing on the South China Sea Dispute, the US-led alliance system, and trade. It then examines China's resultant postures and the possible implications to Australia, before concluding with a look at Australia's responses and the possible options Canberra might employ in its relationship with China moving forward. Through a descriptive analysis within an offensive realist framework, this study concludes that Australia ultimately needs to take a much firmer stance towards China in areas it has traditionally remained more ambivalent. Particularly with the convening/supporting of increased security dialogues between Australia and other regional states, while simultaneously displaying understanding of China's cultural sensitivities, by supporting and advocating for a less confrontational approach in other areas, especially concerning Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs).