Since the start of Russia's increasingly brutal war in Ukraine, the West has ramped up pressure on the rest of the world to condemn Moscow's belligerence and join sanctions against Russia and its regime. In the vast Indo-Pacific region, however, the West's message has fallen flat.
In September 2021, President Biden announced the creation of AUKUS, a trilateral, experimental arrangement among the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom focused on defense technology. The barriers to success are numerous but the partnership could offer significant opportunities.
Australia faces stiff geopolitical competition in Antarctica, and it's not just China and Russia with eyes on the prize. If the Antarctic becomes a hub of geopolitical tension, Australia may need to revise its strategy.
In Australia, the prevailing view of mobilisation is that it is an activity associated with going to war. But it should also include preparing for, and where possible, preventing a range of potential hazards, as well as supporting subsequent recovery efforts.
China has moved in earnest to engage with Oceania, while the United States is vying to get a toehold in the region. To develop an effective strategy for engaging there, Washington could seek guidance from key allies to better understand their experience, lessons, and efforts already underway.
Although China's capabilities and communication channels have changed, its fundamental approach to military deterrence signaling as a form of political coercion has not. As Australia-China relations enter a new, more confrontational era, Canberra is likely to be an increasingly frequent target of Chinese deterrence signaling.
Australia and the United States can combine their military health capabilities to help improve the long-term health security of Pacific island countries. These partnerships should be carefully planned and focus on enduring engagement.
Australia is at risk of a fentanyl problem, but it is better prepared than North America. If the country can make the same kind of concerted effort it did to keep COVID-19 at bay, that could save thousands of lives.
In March, the leaders of the United States, Japan, India, and Australia met virtually for their first Quadrilateral Security Dialogue group meeting. What are the goals of the Quad? What tangibly can or will the Quad do and what does it look like in practice?
Australia will soon begin production of Attack-class submarines and Hunter-class frigates, ostensibly bringing more than $100 billion in new naval ship construction to domestic industry. While many in political and labour circles see this as a boon for Australian companies, actual domestic spending may be far less than imagined.
Certainly there is much work ahead as the United States embarks on the next chapter of competition against China throughout the Indo-Pacific. But U.S. alliances and partnerships are in good shape—the result of a growing Indo-Pacific consensus on the existential economic and security threat China poses.
Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific
The security challenges facing the incoming Biden administration are likely to remain largely the same as those in 2020. The increasing geopolitical, military, and economic heft of the Indo-Pacific region means the United States will likely continue to prioritize this region in 2021.
In November, 15 nations signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free-trade agreement of economic and political significance eight years in the making. Why have some heralded RCEP as a landmark agreement?
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden may be poised to reverse many of President Donald Trump's policies, but one that is very likely to remain is the Indo-Pacific strategy. Any changes will probably be stylistic rather than substantive.
The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) may be on the verge of fragmentation, and if it happens, the consequences for U.S.-China geostrategic competition could be significant. A divided PIF would likely present several opportunities and challenges for China and the United States as their competition ramps up in Oceania.