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Australian Defense Minister warns China risks triggering arms race | Australian Army

China’s military build-up must be accompanied by transparency and guarantees to its neighbors or risk sparking an arms race, Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Richard Marles has said.

Speaking in Singapore on Saturday at the Shangri-La dialogue, Marles presented a view of economic cooperation balanced with military deterrence, but issued a warning about militarization in the Asia-Pacific.

“China’s military buildup is now the largest and most ambitious we’ve seen since the end of World War II,” he said.

“It is therefore essential that China’s neighbors do not see this accumulation as a risk for them. Because without this assurance, it is inevitable that countries will seek to improve their own military capabilities in response. Insecurity is the engine of an arms race.

However, China was going nowhere and its economic success was tied to that of Australia, he said.

Marles said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine showed that economic interdependence was not enough to deter conflict between nations.

Investment in military deterrence would still be necessary to show that the risks of conflict outweighed the benefits.

“China is going nowhere and we all have to live together and hopefully prosper together,” Marles said. “China’s economic success is tied to that of ours and that of the region.

“Australia’s approach will be rooted in a desire to safeguard our national interests and in our support for rules-based regional security and stability.”

He said the rule of law, not power, would govern conduct between states.

Paraphrasing former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating, Marles said China would have to accept restrictions on its power as it seeks to play a leading role in the region.

The communist superpower’s militarization of the South China Sea was intended to “deny the legitimacy” of its neighbors’ claims to the waterway.

Marles said it should “concern” nations that China has not criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine despite its commitment to the principles of sovereignty.

“When it comes to the security and stability of our own region, there will be continuity in Australian defensive policy,” he said.

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This would mean a continuation of the Australian-American alliance, a commitment to Aukus and an “accelerated” push towards military quantum technology, AI, underwater warfare capabilities and hypersonic munitions.

“Australia’s investments in defense capability are a necessary and prudent response to the military build-up we are seeing taking place in the Indo-Pacific,” Marles said.

“They are intended to contribute to an effective balance of military power. A balance aimed at ensuring that no state here will ever conclude that the benefits of conflict outweigh the risks.

On the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, the Deputy Prime Minister reiterated his commitment to the 50-year-old Group of Five Defense Agreements involving Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Britain .

Reuters reported on Saturday that Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein had expressed concern that incidents and accidents were spiraling out of control in the region, while Marles reportedly said the arrangement was not something the government Australia took for granted.

A war of words has erupted between US and Chinese defense ministers over Taiwan after Wei Fenghe reportedly told his counterpart, Lloyd Austin, that Beijing “would not hesitate to start a war at all costs” if Taiwan declared his independence.

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Post expires at 5:47am on Thursday June 23rd, 2022