Australia’s choice in a US-China conflict

As China converts its growing economic power into military power, it will seek to dominate Asia the way the U.S. has dominated the western hemisphere since the 19th century.

Washington will go to great lengths to prevent China from seeking regional hegemony. The tensions over tariffs, Taiwan and Hong Kong are just the beginning of a deteriorating Sino-American relationship.

Australian foreign-policy elites seem to think that they can either wish away the intense security competition or that, if the conflict materialises, Canberra can sit on the sidelines: China and the US can duke it out while Australia is safe, secure and prosperous. Perhaps, but this is not how international politics works.

John Mearsheimer is professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago and author of The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (W.W. Norton, 2001).