Australia's Relationship with Indonesia
Traditionally, Australia and Asia have anxious and strained relationship despite geographical nearness. After war, this scenario has been changed and now, Australia and Asia have been embarked on new relationship through immigration, travel, trade, security concerns and cultural exchange. Closer political, cultural and economic development with Asia have been started in early 1990’s through prime minister Paul Keating and since there have been contrasting viewpoint regarding this relationship. Government undertook various initiatives and engagement to raise awareness of Asian region including the program National Asian Languages Study in Australian Schools (NALSAS). At that time, there also accepting huge number of immigrants from Asian region which includes Malaysia, Hong Kong, Mainland China, the Philippines, Vietnam, and India. However, public opinion at that time was at contrast with the government. After that Hawke government followed the examples of Keating government, but Howard government has unravelled many initiatives of both the government. The relationship took a serious hit after terrorist attacks in New York, Bali and Jakarta. In response to this, Howard government has made closer ties USA and cancelled the NALSAS program. Although, Australian government have took the decision to renew ties with Asia-Pacific development at 16th APEC meeting. Recently, new generation of college educated young Australians have started interacting more with Asian generation and culture. Recent survey suggested that 62 percent Australian have spent some time with friends from Asian heritage. This survey also reports that at least once a year, 25 per cent of Australian have took part in some kind of Asian activities like travelling to Asia, took part in Asian festivities and culture. Furthermore, now a days, few number of Australians also taking interest in learning an Asian culture or language (Pietsch & Aarons, 2012).
According to the author Hugh White, Indonesia should become an economic powerhouse by 2040 if they are able maintain the 5 percent GDP growth per year. However, recent condition and situation in Indonesia seems to point towards other direction. Some Australian perceived this as a good news because of less competition but the author provides some counter arguments. The author argues that this the best time to consider Indonesia as potential ally as Indonesia can offer Australia shielding and protection from distant threats. The geographical location of Indonesia can also be a strategic asset to Australia as mentioned in 1986 Dibb review where Indonesia was described as a protective barrier to the northern side of Australia. Along with that, right now, China has becoming the dominant power in the region as US dominancy fades. The author predicted that managing China’s increasing influence and power will be the main theme of Australia’s foreign policy in the coming decade. To this aspect, friendship with Indonesia can help tackle this particular problem better and Indonesia has the potential to be the greatest ally of Australia. Additionally, the good relationship between China and Indonesia has also been severed since 1965 after that failed coup. Consequently, Indonesia also needs ally to tackle China apart from taking decision to stand alone. This might just smoothen the initiation and rebuilding process between the two countries. Finally, the author argues that while Australia can never ignore the threat and danger Indonesia poses, but in current situation Australia cannot really ignore the benefits of having Indonesia as an ally (White, 2018).
Japan and Australia's Economic and Military Relationship
After the end of Second World War, Australia and Japan began a close economic relationship and it has turn into one of the closest bilateral relationship in the span of last six decades. Both Australia and Japan have strong tie up with the United States of America and shared commitments like democratic values, maritime security, and trade and navigational freedom. The bilateral relationship between the two countries started in 1952 which was later ratified by 1957 Commerce treaty. Japan have free trade deals with Australia and account for 16 per cent of the Australia’s export market. In 2014, the relationship ties between Japan and Australia become ever stronger by an economic partnership agreement totalling $70 billion. However, the military relationship between the two countries were not cohesive from the beginning. Almost 40 years after their economic tie up, in 1992, Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) and Australian Defence Force (ADF) worked jointly for the first time. This initiation kindled the military relationship between the both country which leads to a cooperated and multilateral military framework for various relief and humanitarian operations across the world. In the year 2002, Japan joined for the first time in US-Japan-Australia TSD (Trilateral Strategic Dialogue). This in turn leads to the joint announcement on Security Cooperation by Japan and Australia in the year 2007. Recently, the relationship between Japan and Australia took a minor dent when Australian government decided to buy French submarines instead of Japanese ones. Although, the bilateral relationship between Japan and Australia remains strong and must move forward hand in hand with shared values for the safety and stability of their own future (Jacobs, 2017).
China has been perceived as a potential threat since before the formation of commonwealth of Australia. This notion has been increased recently due to the economic growth of China in the last few decades. This insurgence of Chinese power have not been accepted similarly in the countries of Asia-Pacific. For example, in recent times countries like India, Vietnam and the Philippines have faced the threat of China whereas Thailand and Malaysia have been much more acceptant. In view of that, the threat of China have always been lingered on the public discourse in Australia. Internationally, Australia have an alliance with the USA since 1940s. The recent strenuous relationship between China and USA and China’s emergence as global power has put this alliance in consideration. This situation related Chinese influence has been aggravated through foreign policies taken by Australian government specially John Howard government. The approach of John Howard government was at first threat and then friendship. Apart from that, perceived threat of China has social and economic concerns to the current Australian society and economy. As for economic concern, China and Australia has close economic tie up between them and depend on each other like demand of steel from China and Australia’s mining power to provide the ore. Another example is that, China will invest $60 million in real estate sector of Australia between 2015 – 2021 which almost two times more than the previous 6 years. So, to summarize, it can be said that right now China is still not a regional security threat to Australia but there is a huge probability that it might become one (Goodman, 2017).
1. From the time of British colonies, Australian and New Zealand have shared a strategic concern over the Pacific islands. This common objective for the Oceania has been lasted for more than two centuries and it started with the push to creation of British Oceania. It was started by the joint effort to create the region’s first major governing organisation named South Pacific Commission (SPC). This organisation evolved into a more explicit form political forum managed by islands elite. Australia and New Zealand have funded this forum since then. This has helped Australia and New Zealand to keep a control and shaping of the policies in the Pacific islands while give the islanders a sense ownership entitlement (Lawson, 2017).
2. In the first part of the Twenty First century, Australia has decided to suspend its non-interference policy regarding the Pacific islands. The foremost reason behind this decision is that the coup of Fiji in 2006. The coup was caused by military commander Frank Bainimarama to overthrow then Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase. This coup led to the suspension of Fiji from the forum. The decision to suspend Fiji was anonymous, although it was unofficially argued that the pressure of Australia and New Zealand were behind this. During the Soloman Island disaster, Prime Minister John Howard took the stance of restrain regarding taking control of the situation. However, the Fiji coup in 2006 led Australia to abandon their non-interference policy regarding Oceania (Lawson, 2017).
Goodman, D. S. (2017). Australia and the China threat: Managing ambiguity. The Pacific Review, 30(5), 769-782.
Jacobs, E. M. (2017). Special relations, strategic locations: Prospects for the Japan-Australia security relationship. Policy: A Journal of Public Policy and Ideas, 33(2), 24.
Lawson, S. (2017). Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands forum: A critical review. Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, 55(2), 214-235.
Pietsch, J & Aarons, H. (2012). Australian Engagement with Asia: Towards Closer Political, Economic and Cultural Ties, in Juliet Pietsch and Haydn Aarons (eds.), Australia Identity, Fear and Governance in the 21st Century. Canberra: ANU ePress, pp. 33-46.
White, H. (2018). The Jakarta switch: Why Australia needs to pin its hopes (not fears) on a great and powerful Indonesia. Australian Foreign Affairs, (3), 7.