Wednesday 25 Nov 2020 | 02:50 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 25 Nov 2020 | 02:50 | SYDNEY

Email of the day: Giving China an inch


Sam Roggeveen


6 February 2008 16:30

Reader Raoul Heinrichs enters the 'rising China' debate: 

Hugh White presents a strong case for accommodating, rather than resisting, China’s rising power. Certainly, the risks of acute strategic competition between the US and China would clearly be inimical to Australian interests, should they materialise. But neither should we think that accepting and learning to live with a powerful China is necessarily an optimal basis for Australian grand strategy.  For a start, accommodating Chinese power means recognising that China may well want to be more than a ‘responsible stakeholder’ in a system in which the US is the principal architect and beneficiary. Indeed, as a rising power, Beijing will actively seek to shape its own strategic environment, defining and then defending a broader set of interests, including those which do not coincide with Australian interests.

Thus, while we may accept as perfectly legitimate China’s right to build military forces commensurate with its rising levels of economic and political power, could we similarly accommodate Chinese military basing in Southeast Asia or the Southwest Pacific, notwithstanding that this may also be part and parcel of becoming a great power? If it is important for Australian interests and security – as it is in Hugh White’s calculation — that Australia retain air and maritime capabilities sufficient to exercise  independent strategic weight in the region, then surely it is also prudent to pursue policies which circumscribe, or at least hedge against, unfavourably revisionist Chinese behaviour.