Monday 25 Oct 2021 | 20:14 | SYDNEY
Monday 25 Oct 2021 | 20:14 | SYDNEY

US-China-Australia: Cool change


Rory Medcalf


4 September 2009 13:50

The story about a possible US-China-Australia defence exercise is picking up momentum, with press coverage in Asia, the US and Europe, as well as at least one Chinese-language television channel, albeit based in Hong Kong.

The Australian Government has not denied that the idea was discussed by US and Australian military chiefs this week (pictured: ADM Keating at the Lowy Institute this week). But the clear implication of follow-up coverage in the Australian press this morning is that, as The Interpreter suspected, there is no definite political agreement to proceed with this yet.

Importantly, the tenor of remarks by Australia's Prime Minister and the Chinese Ambassador in Canberra is broadly positive. It is still far too early to expect that a gesture about defence engagement – whether in the Australia-China bilateral sense or trilaterally with the US — will guarantee a way forward in rescuing the Australia-China relationship from the hole it has fallen into this year. But it just might. It would be well worth the effort, regardless of where the idea originated.

UPDATE: The story is now being published by PRC media outlets too. To paraphrase the key points: According to Australian media, Australia and the US are going to invite China in a joint military exercise. PACOM chief Admiral Keating is quoted as saying 'we are hoping to engage with China seperately and try to persuade it to join the exercise'.