Australia and New Zealand Form Coalition Against China

"USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) and the Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Stuart (FFH 153) break away from the Royal Canadian Navy replenishment ship NRU Asterix after a replenishment-at-sea." by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

On the topic of China, Australia and New Zealand’s prime ministers have presented a united front. They are warning against individuals aiming to divide the trans-Tasman allies by establishing “points of difference.”

“A Merlin HM Mk1 helicopter from RNAS Culdrose, with a Seahawk from the Australian Navy” by Defence Images is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Annual Leaders’ Summit in Queenstown brought together Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to discuss a variety of issues. These issues include COVID-19, enhanced Pacific engagement, trade, and Indo-Pacific peace.

The presidents attempted to allay fears of a rift between the two countries over their contrasting approaches to China.

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The Possibility of Conflict

Morrison said, when questioned about the likelihood of armed war in the Indo-Pacific area, that the globe is presently facing characterization thanks to “greater strategic competition” from both China and America.

Following their meeting, the prime ministers issued a lengthy joint statement emphasizing the importance of maintaining sovereignty in a “period of [heightened] geopolitical competition.”

The statement maintains that prime ministers are interested in countering interference from foreign nations. Likewise, all prime ministers agree about the need for a series of resilent sectors throughout various facets of society. 

Concerns over Chinas Militarization 

They were also concerned about Beijing’s militarization of the South China Sea and its seizure of Hong Kong.

NZ Trade Minister Damien O’Connor said over the weekend that the Ardern administration would join Australia in its dispute with China at the World Trade Organization.

The step was taken by the Morrison administration in response to China’s imposition of 80% tariffs on barley exports to the country. The decision was allegedly made in response to Australia “dumping” barley into the Chinese market, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. Australia refutes this claim.

The outspoken backing from New Zealand follows criticism of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s approach to China, which has been described as “too delicate” for foreign observers to notice.

China has undeniably grown in power over the last ten years. This influence stretches throughout much of Southeast Asia and Africa, and the country’s belt and road plan see it directly involved in the infrastructural development of emerging countries.

Over the same time period, China’s military has witnessed enormous investment, with its army undergoing tremendous modernization and force levels reaching well over three million men and women.

The Chinese Air Force, though having a huge number of contemporary jets, is still behind the United States, with 3,260 operational aircraft compared to 13,233 for the United States.

The Chinese Navy is the new military’s pride and joy. Their navy has more personnel than the US Navy, but not in the areas that matter. The United States has 11 huge supercarriers, each capable of housing the world’s sixth-largest air force.