Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

McCain warns Australia over rise of China [The Age]


Tricky positioning for Australia as the U.S. is a strategic ally whilst China is its economic lifeline. PM Gillard’s response? – Ms Gillard said she would not speculate on hypothetical situations.

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McCain warns Australia over rise of China
Michelle Grattan
Source – The Age, published March 10, 2011

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and US Senator John McCain meet in Washington at an exhibition marking the 60th anniversary of the ANZUS Treaty. Photo: Andrew Meares

FORMER presidential candidate John McCain has declared that Australia and the US should ensure that an increasingly assertive China observe basic principles such as ”freedom of the seas”.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Julia Gillard after they opened a photographic exhibition marking ANZUS’s 60th anniversary, the Republican senator said China was engaging in a military build-up and had just announced a 12.5 per cent increase in defence spending.

The Chinese had been acting ”very assertively” in the region, including ”a dust-up” with the Vietnamese, he said.

This did not necessarily mean there would be a conflict, ”but it does mean to me that Australia and the United States must ensure that basics like freedom of the seas are observed by the Chinese”. That doctrine is that ships of any nation may travel unhampered through international waters.

Senator McCain said the Chinese had talked about the South China Sea being a special zone.

”So I do think that the United States and Australia will be working more actively to make sure that there is not any tensions in the region,” he said.

”The best way to prevent that is for the United States and Australia to assert the basic principles of conduct that all nations should adhere to.”

Senator McCain had been asked whether he would like to see the US ”force posture review” result in America having a greater force presence in Australia.

Ms Gillard, at a separate news conference later, again expressed enthusiasm for more intense military co-operation but dodged questioning about what that could mean in terms of American military forces in Australia.

She said what was happening in our region was largely defined by the rise of China. ”So we constructively engage with China. That’s our policy. It’s the policy of the US.” This included frank discussion with China where there were differences.

She said that Australia was collaborating in the force review and that the outcome would be known later this year.

Asked whether the outcome was likely to include American troops on the ground in Australia, she answered in generalities – and would not pre-empt the review’s findings.

Senator McCain, asked if Australia should support any extradition move by the US if WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange was charged by American authorities, said he would be interested to hear Ms Gillard’s views on this issue.

He said the WikiLeaks disclosures were ”the greatest, largest, most damaging security breach in the history of this country”.

He said he did not know how the situation should be treated but he would like to see those who had helped the alleged leaker, US soldier Bradley Manning, held responsible.

Senator McCain said Manning could not have done all he did just by himself – that other people were responsible as well but no one had been charged, fired or reprimanded.

Ms Gillard said she would not speculate on hypothetical situations.

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Filed under: Australia, Beijing Consensus, Economics, International Relations, military, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Resources, Soft Power, Strategy, The Age

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