Tensions continue to escalate throughout the Indo-Pacific causing great concern around the world and even more so in neighboring countries. The prime ministers of Japan and Australia will meet in Perth on October 22 to share intelligence on the Chinese Communist Party’s military build-up and intentions in the region and then announce a new security agreement.
The original 2007 security document was signed by then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australian Prime Minister John Howard. It highlighted common strategic interests and security benefits embedded in their respective alliance relationships with the United States.
At the time, the agreement focused concerns about North Korea’s nuclear and missile development. Now, the concern is centered on the military buildup carried out by the Chinese Communist Party over the past 15 years and its constant threats to run roughshod over the region.
The new agreement between “special strategic partners” Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is also expected to include the importance of economic security, including building national resilience against economic coercion; resolving disputes by peaceful means; and putting an end to all destabilizing actions.
Shingo Yamagami, Japan’s ambassador to Australia, hinted during an interview with The Guardian that Australia is likely to be invited to the G-7 summit in Hiroshima in 2023.
Yamagami said, “I’m quite sure this visit and this joint declaration to be signed by the two prime ministers will serve as an indispensable catalyst to enhanced intelligence cooperation.”
Continued tension in the region
Although there have been no open conflicts in the region, the reality is that tensions has reached an unprecedented level. And at times it seems that a simple spark could ignite a huge fire.
The Chinese communist regime has developed military might over the last decade aiming at global dominance.
To demonstrate this power and intimidate its enemies and neighbors, the CCP has carried out countless military exercises that in many cases have violated several international norms stipulated to maintain peace. It invaded the air and maritime spaces of several of its neighboring countries, generating fear, tension, and threats of armed conflict.
Much of the area Chinese fighter jets flew over was the disputed Spratly Islands. The area is recognized as international waters, and many of the islands in the vicinity have been claimed by neighboring nations such as the Philippines and Vietnam.
Nevertheless the CCP persists in declaring a large area of the territory as part of its property. It has cited a territorial provision known as the ‘nine-dashed line,’ which is based on a Qing Dynasty map, indicating several islands in the area, including Taiwan, as part of Chinese territory.
To reinforce its claims the Chinese regime built several landing platforms on islands in the region. The Chinese regime is looking to claim the diverse fishing in the area as its own along with the possible oil and gas reserves.
The CCP has been drilling to identify underwater hydrocarbon reserves and oil companies associated with the regime have set up real “maritime cities” in these areas.
The policies of the CCP in the Indo-Pacific have set off alarms in the countries in the region and they are beginning to prepare for a possible confrontation.
Japan and Australia, two of the most important countries in the region, are leading the way in defense preparations, war strategies, and alliances with the West.
The two countries also have similar growth prospects and, more specifically, closely aligned perceptions of regional threats and how those threats should be countered.
The United States has always functioned as their security guarantor, including through its nuclear deterrent, and in the liberal international order that Washington established during the Cold War.
Indeed, both countries fear any reduction of U.S. might because the immediate consequence would be the CCP’s advance in the Indo-Pacific.
In preparation for such an eventuality Australia and Japan seek to strengthen their position by cooperating more closely with each other in the face of such risks.
Japan and Australia are also major trading partners. Australia is one of Japan’s largest suppliers of food, minerals, and energy. And since the Russia-Ukraine conflict the supply chain has been affected but their officials have always sought ways to increase economic security and ensure the exchange of essential goods.
Five Eyes and Japan
The Five Eyes alliance comprises five English-speaking countries; the United States, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. The origins of the group date back to informal secret meetings during World War II between British and American code breakers.
Today it functions as a kind of security guarantee in the region, to demonstrate to adversaries such as the CCP that major Western powers are committed to neighboring countries.
Japan, which because of its language could not be an official member of this alliance, is an ally since the communist regime became a real threat.
So much so that it has signed several agreements with these countries assuming great commercial and military commitments, and this year, the Kishida government assured that it would share with the alliance all manner of intelligence data necessary to stop the communist regime’s intentions to advance.