People call 21st century an Asian Century because of Asia’s rise, which leads to a huge change in global power and opulence to Asia or more precisely, move to Asia after peculiar centuries. The inferences for Australians and Australia are intensive, and also they will effect on every part of both external and domestic policy.
It is considered to be perilous to extrapolate from the trends that are current. But comparative growth rates of economic, investment and trade patterns, defense capacities, population futures, and impact in worldwide decision making platforms all are directing towards one direction.
Julia Gillard, the former Prime Minister of Australia implied the economic numbers last September while declaring the White Paper commissioning on Australia in the Asian Century, are humbly spectacular. Advancement done by Japan and after that by Asian Tigers i.e. Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong, or by Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia recently, have been laid in the dark by the vivid performance of India and China. In the last twenty years, these two giant countries have already gained the 40% of the world’s population and also they have enhanced their economic size nine times, while China doubles its economy after every eight years and India after eleven years.
They both together have grown their economy in the last two decades and capture almost the fifth part out of tenth of the world’s economy, and further after two decades it can be seen that they will project their economy from fifth to third. China now is the second largest economy of the world and now on its way to become the first in the coming twenty years, or even may be earlier. At the same time, India is trying to exceed the US economy by the mid-century if they are successful in acquiring the power terms. If we talk about per capita term then neither India nor China will be rich enough because of the fact of their tension and internal problem. However, it cannot change the simple truth of a big wealth shift.
The growth of economic has been followed by prominent escalations in the military expenses by both India and China, this is 2010 news, after US the China is ranked in second number while India at ninth after France, UK, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Germany and Russia. In this modern age, one cannot think about the war between the world’s main powers, power is all about the political influence or its about perception, or it can be defined in terms of military capability, and it can be seen from this context that India and China are making absolute progress in this military weight.
The white paper will focus devastatingly on domestic policy settings that how we should gear or take maximum benefit of the great opportunities, especially economic opportunities, from management of macroeconomic, to trade, innovation or industry, training and education, infrastructure, immigration, business regulation, arts and the environment. This paper will mainly focus on the main challenges for Australian foreign policy.
In the Asian Century, there are many challenges that are posed for Australia. First is to abstain from the zero sum game option in the terms with US and China; second to maintain a healthy relations with India; third to establish a good relationship with Indonesia; fourth to take part in the establishment of security cooperation and regional economic mechanisms in which Australia is seen as the effective and relevant player.
In considering not only the extent but also the nature of foreign policy challenges, also having the capability to perform something in favor of them, it could be profitable to say somewhat in more general manner about the national interest of Australian and the weaknesses and strengths.
To every other country the foreign policy primary role is to advance and protect the national interests, and it can be defined firstly by security interest at one hand and on the other hand it can be trade and economic interests; there is nothing more important for any country to guard the country form attack or threat or to enhance the quality of living and income of its people.
This idea is based on the fact that there are many problems in the modern world that oblige not just bilateral or unilateral but supportive multilateral act to solve the problem. It can be terrorism, piracy to climate change, mass massacre crimes, from health plagues to unstructured population streams; this is what has been said by Kofi Annan “Problems without passports”, or international problems or worldwide public problems. Each problem is beyond the capacity of any state to solve, however huge and powerful it is.
The ability of any country to follow national interests, in all the dimensions that have been explained above, is its strength promotional by the weakness. Being Self-evident are the Australian strength limits: it will not or will never become the superpower. It is best at middle power, never expected to have military, political or economic influence to force our will on others, and finally dependent on the capacity to admire. But if the Australia plays at middle level diplomacy with the like countries of same characteristics it is possible to generate a healthy relation with the other countries and thus creating a good return in any field.
Australia on the other hand is the 12th largest economy, and by landmass it comes at sixth and in maritime zone it comes in third place; it is multicultural country of the world; it shows inimitable viewpoint linking Asia Pacific geography and European history. Individual and peacekeepers of Australia while working in worldwide establishments, both nongovernmental and official, have greatly an exceptional reputation; also as a security alliance with US, we also obey or show strong commitments globally and regionally.
The ties between China and US are sound at the moment, enduring some acute connections in 2010 on amount of challenging deeds by China against territorial issues on water over the China Sea towards south, and recently the tension that has been created by the support of US to Chen Guangchen. But still many thinks about this issue that how US will react on the China’s acceleration of Economic Growth. One of the most dangerous or discussed issue of all times in the region is the ill use of nuclear weapons, Washington on the other hand is fully convinced with the performance of Beijing to compel North Korea.
In practice by working all the way, and its entailments for how long can we manage our defense carriage and future expenses, in such a way that provides us more comfortable independent security against different ugly possibilities without indulging in such a tension?
Australia on the other hand is not interested any more on China’s investment and trade and it can be seen that the relationship is ended with tears, and also with the passage of time Australia has sad that they are not keen in assembling anything from China creating the Cold War strategy. Australia has shown its keens interest in developing a healthy ties with US or South East Asian neighbors.
The importance or upswing of India is as important as China, but policymakers have not noticed that. Trade capacities between West and South Asia and East Asia particularly now far offset those over the pacific and they are increasing vividly. China’s growth has been fueled by Gulf oil, and also between the two giants a bilateral trade.
There is nothing especial that can alarm Australia, and many among these are happy with this development. Importance of South East Asia in the geographic hub is important due to the fact that it links the South West and North West, same is the case with Australia it also plays a significant role in this action. Australians are now recognizing the importance of Indian economic potential is almost same as that of China.
For Australian, India has become a very big market for the natural resources such as gold, coal and copper in general and also the educational services. It can be said that India is the fourth biggest market for export destination of services and goods after Japan, Korea and China and now have the caliber to become the second.
In terms of diplomatic, the relations with India are amiable though they are narrow during the Cold War due to some strategies, or due to personality conflict between the PM Menzies and Nehru also they have worked together on different general issues from decades. Australia has a strong tie with India on security issues, too. Indians have strong relation with Australians and consider Australia a perfect place for excursion. But the relation between India and Australia is not as healthy as it should be. There have been seen some episodic disturbance from Indian side.
The good place to start with is with the economic relationship, if the bilateral investment and trade ties are to take at some level then there is a need to be an integration of economic with the help of trade agreement which Australia is discussing with the three great partners Japan, Korea and China and it launched an agreement with India.
One of the main concerns of the Australian Public policy is that why still Indonesia has not gained the level of understanding and attentions from the leaders than other Asian countries have gained, though it deserves. Mostly people forget about the importance of Indonesia as it comes in number four in the world in area, and it is also the largest Islamic country and the most effective and potential player in ASEAN. The Indonesia in progressing day by day and this cannot be denied that its economy is increasing incredibly and it plays a significant and thoughtful role in both global and regional affairs.
There are number of factors that lack the relationship between Australia and Indonesia. One of the factors is the stereotype perception about Indonesia that it is not changed, still some thought as the military dominance, undemocratic, authoritarian, there exist terrorist and a culture that is unknown to Australia. The point is that this concept of stereotype is now obsolete and there in Indonesia there is a proper democratic transformation.
There are various factors and issues that are arising over the last number of years, make it authoritative that they are trying to work as hard as they can to implement the policy making architecture, security cooperation and regional economic mechanisms that truly work. There has been seen three basic differences between the Indo Pacific and Asia Pacific, cooperation and dialogue, there is no platform for security that bring all together, another key platform of APEC which plays a significant role in trade facilitation, even if it has not complete the hopes and not lived that much excluding India; there is another platform or forum named as East Asia Summit for policy issues like economic, security and socio political also it excludes the countries like Russia and US.
Australia indeed is hopeful and can meet the challenges in foreign policy, but still it needs to be quick and show more reflexes, because things happens, incidents occur, sometimes there have made a misjudgments, peace can be turned into the war, we can see that these things happened in the past and still can be happened again.