Saltwater Strategists podcast “The China Challenge” and Australian security
Saltwater Strategists podcast

Written by

Michael Shoebridge

A podcast covering strategy, capability, the region, China and the US recorded with Saltwater Strategists.

Australia’s security environment is not ‘increasingly complex and uncertain’. It’s unfortunately getting simple but in a nasty way – we face a direct security threat from China in our near region, most immediately obvious because of Beijing’s growing security relationship with Mr Sogavare in the Solomon Islands. It’s the first time since World War Two Australia has had to plan around a direct security threat and not simply plug in bits of our Defence Force into a bigger American force structure.

That’s big news for Australian strategy and force structure. But to even begin to confront this challenge, the first step is a huge psychological shift for Australia’s Defence organisation and everyone in it.

Beyond this direct regional security threat, China is a combined political, strategic, technological and economic challenge, that requires Australia (and many other nations) to integrate strategic and economic policy much more closely than we have yet done. Chinese strategy is to break out of the first island chain through maritime power, but also through BRI connections through Central Asia into Europe and through Pakistan. At the same time, the Chinese state wants to make its economy less dependent on others, while making other economies more dependent on China’s.

Meanwhile, the next US President is not known, and what a second term Trump might or might not do is unknownable. Even Donald Trump himself doesn’t know what he would or wouldn’t do. However, one of America’s unique strengths compared with China is America’s alliance network – shown to be incredibly powerful by US President Biden’s rapid unifying of the US, NATO and EU in support of Ukraine. And alliance management depends on more than just who the US President is from time to time – relations with Congress, and key Administration figures other than the president and within the Pentagon, State, Commerce etc have always mattered. Listen here