Home World Asia Australia can’t contain or deny China’s rise, but can join forces to compete with it, Kim Beazley says

Australia can’t contain or deny China’s rise, but can join forces to compete with it, Kim Beazley says

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Former federal defence minister and WA governor, Kim Beazley, has urged Australia to focus on strengthening its relationship with India to compete with the rise of China.

Speaking at the Indian Ocean Defence & Security Conference in Perth, Mr Beazley said Australia had a “heavy set of expectations” on its shoulders.

“China has turned the Indian Ocean into a strategic system. It’s their right to do so,” he said.

“Can we contain this? Can we deny it? The answer to that is no. It is not possible to either contain it or deny it.

“What we can do is to compete with it, and it’s the competition with it which is now the thing which dominates the thinking of our state’s people today.”

Beazley sees major balancing role for India

Mr Beazley said “in a system which required balances”, the power that most needed to be mobilised was India.

“The question is what player do we want the Indians to be?” Mr Beazley said.

“I would argue we need to present to them as vigorously as we can … the idea that they should be defenders of the international, liberal, global, political order.”

“That’s not easy for India,” he continued, citing demonstrations of Chinese naval capability, including in the search for MH370.

WA Premier Mark McGowan also addressed the conference, boasting of WA’s strong economy and calling for the state to host a greater defence presence.

He said those resources could help protect valuable assets in the state’s north, which he pointed out produced around half of Australia’s export value.

“I don’t believe that there is any great likelihood that those resources will be called upon at short notice,” he said.

“But if the question is, given our nation’s capability and interests, where should our personnel and assets be placed, surely, serious consideration must be given to additional assets and personnel on the ground in Western Australia.”

He continued by urging for “cool heads to prevail” in discussions and warned against sabre-rattling.

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