By Da Qiao, HaoShuangyan
Australia’s Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade said in its latest report issued in November that the Australian national defense force is dangerously small. It urged the Australian government to consider the necessity of expanding the national defense force amid the worsening tension between Canberra and Beijing, and suggested a shift towards shaping the military forces as a disproportionately potent force in grey-zone, in addition to scaling up conventional troops.
Australian media said this wasn’t the first time that Canberra clamored for military expansion in recent years. When the Australian Defense Ministry issued the 2020 Defence Strategic Update and the 2020 Force Structure Plan last year, it announced to invest AUD 70 billion (about USD 49 billion) in the next decade to shore up the national defense capabilities.
According to Chen Hong, head of the ChineseAssociation for Australian Studies and director of the Australian Studies Centre at the East China Normal University, the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade is a policy committee of Australia that plays an important role in the formation and implementation of policies. That the committee is rolling out such a report at this moment once again reminds us of an alarming and dangerous trend that has recently emerged in the country.
For a long time after the end of the Cold War, Canberra kept its head clear that its national defense forces were mainly for defensive rather than offensive purposes. But in the past few years, a group of militarists in the country has gained ground and begun to hype up the so-called “China threat theory”.
Australian DefenceMinister Peter Dutton was full of hot air about China-related topics in Canberra on November 26, claiming that Australia is facing the most significant change in its strategic environment since WWII, and went to great lengths elaborating the various “threats” posed by China to the region, including Australia. Australian Prime Minister Morrison on the 28th agreed to what Dutton said because he was “completely right”.
At the same time, Australia has been busy buying weapons this year. The Australian Financial Review reported on November 29th that the federal parliament had started a review of the AUKUS security partnership recently signed by Australia, the US and Britain. According to the agreement, Australia will purchase at least eight nuclear-powered submarines from the US and the UK in the next few decades, in exchange for the two countries’ promise to provide training for submarine crew and technical personnel.
Chen Hong added that military expansion is an outgoing rather than purely defensive move. Besides, Australia wants to form a nuclear-powered submarine fleet to enhance its long-range strike capability, which is also an outgoing threat. What Canberra is doing now demonstrates how immature and unwise its foreign policy is – eager to serve as a pawn for the US and making military provocations to Beijing. It’s highly likely that Canberra is making military preparations targeting China, and such a move will seriously undermine local, regional and global stability and peace. Chen, who described Australia’s foreign policy as a “combination of opportunism and adventurism”, said the country is embarking on a very dangerous path.
Editor's note: This article is originally published on huanqiu.com, and is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.