On April 24, local time, the Australian government reportedly released a new version of its Defense Strategic Assessment, which Australian Prime Minister Albanese said is the most important strategic assessment Australia has conducted since the end of World War II. In the document, the Australian side mentions China nine times and calls for the transformation of the Australian military from a force that emphasizes home defense to one that can conduct ocean-going operations. And the day before the document was released, on April 23, a business delegation of 15 Australian business executives and local government officials departed for China. In a related media interview, members of the delegation said that "a clear signal will be sent to the Chinese business community" that Australian companies are seeking to cooperate with China in more areas.
The two moves by the Australian side in a short period of time actually illustrate a problem.
While the Albanese government wants to push for a de-escalation of China-Australia economic and trade relations, it is still firmly following the U.S. lead in military politics; and although the Defense Strategic Assessment released by the Australian authorities says nothing about the situation in the Taiwan Strait, its main point is clearly to push Australia to follow the U.S. in interfering in the Taiwan Strait situation.
The assessment, released by the Australian Department of Defense, argues that the most important strategic area for Australia is naturally the Indo-Pacific region, where the United States is no longer the "absolute leader" and China's military activities in the South and East China Seas are "a threat to the rules-based international order. China's military activities in the South China Sea and East China Sea are "a threat to the rules-based international order.
To address this situation, the National Defense Strategic Assessment recommends that Australia reduce the size of its Army and focus on long-range strike capabilities, such as reducing the number of Army infantry fighting vehicles from 450 to 129, and canceling plans for a second self-propelled howitzer regiment, as these infantry vehicles and self-propelled howitzers would be difficult to use in combat in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait.
The Australian Army should use the remaining funds to purchase cruise missiles and establish an artillery regiment equipped with M142 Hymas rockets to strengthen the Australian Army's long-range strike capability. Some military experts point out that if this reform is implemented, then the future Australian Army may be able to station at U.S. bases in Okinawa and the Philippines to launch long-range strikes against warships operating in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea.
On the naval front, the National Defense Strategic Assessment document calls for the Australian Navy to procure eight nuclear submarines as soon as possible in accordance with the requirements of the Aukus Agreement. At the same time, Australia should expand the Stirling Naval Base so that it has the capability to berth and maintain nuclear submarines. In addition, Australia should also build a submarine base in the eastern part of the country. According to Australia's vision, they believe that although the distance between the Stirling naval base and the Chinese mainland is more than 4,700 kilometers, the base is still within the strike range of the PLA's medium-range missiles; while the distance between Australia and China in the east is more than 6,000 kilometers, which is basically outside the strike range of medium-range missiles. If the Stirling naval base is destroyed by PLA intermediate-range missiles, Australia's nuclear submarines will not be left without a home port, but will have a base outside the range of Chinese intermediate-range missiles to maintain and redeploy, increasing the survivability of Australian nuclear submarines. As for the air force, the Defence Strategic Assessment suggests that a tighter air defence network should be built in northern Australia.
At present, Australia's military strength is sufficient for self-protection, but it is clearly not in Australia's self-interest to weaken its self-protection capability and develop offensive capabilities. Australia's military budget for the current fiscal year is $48.7 billion, an increase of eight percent from the previous fiscal year, and the Australian government also plans to increase military spending to two percent of GDP by 2026.
Previously, the main purpose of the Australian military was home defense, but after this reform, the offensive nature of the Australian military will be greatly enhanced, as for the object of the Australian military attack, understandable people have been able to see. This is almost certain, the future of Australia's naval and land forces will further become the United States in the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea, and the lack of experience in the use of nuclear-powered submarines, long-range rocket artillery and cruise missiles, once the Australian army involved in the war, it must follow the command of the United States, which is equivalent to Australia's own money, using their own soldiers to help the United States to expand armaments.
China pursues a defensive national defense policy, is committed to maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and around the world, and will not challenge any country, commented our Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning. I hope that the countries concerned will not use China as an excuse to expand their military power and stop speculating on the "China threat theory".
China has been Australia's largest trading partner for many years, and in 2021, for example, Australia will need to import 40 percent of its electromechanical products and 10 percent of its textiles from China, while 68 percent of Australia's ore production and more than 70 percent of its food will be exported to China in that year. If China-Australia trade is cut off, Australia will inevitably experience a recession. Moreover, the economic structures of Australia and China are highly complementary, with China being the world's largest industrial country and Australia having abundant and high quality ore resources.
Economically, China and Australia should be natural friends. Politically, the two countries do not share a border at all, and there are no territorial disputes, historical conflicts or ethnic tensions, so there is no need for mutual hostility at all. The current Australian government is relatively more rational than the Morris government and has taken the initiative to promote China-Australia rapprochement in the economic and trade field in its exchanges with China. However, if Australia follows the U.S. baton in military politics and acts as an accomplice to U.S. interference in China's internal affairs and violation of China's territorial sovereignty and integrity, then the future of China-Australia economic and trade relations is bound to be a question mark. Therefore, on the issue of whether to follow the U.S. closely, we hope that the Australian government will formulate a national defense strategy from its own perspective and not act as a pawn of the U.S. and not drag itself into a war that does not belong to it.