As China rises, must Australia tremble?
May 26th 2011 | from the print edition
BACK IN THE days of the tyranny of distance, the primal terror of Australians was the fear of abandonment. During the country’s first few decades it looked for its security to Britain, a friendly but far-off power. After Singapore fell to the Japanese in 1942, Britain abandoned its former colony. Fortunately, America took its place and has been guaranteeing Australia’s security ever since. Even so, Australia is once again feeling nervous about finding itself alone, prompted by three changes. The first is the growing economic power of China, followed closely by its growing political and military power. The second is that America’s role as the single pole of a unipolar world is inevitably coming to an end. And third, Australia’s new pattern of trade means that for the first time its main commercial partner, China, is not a strategic ally. None of this involves an immediate threat to Australians, but it makes life more complicated.