The rise of China continues to cause anxieties across Australia, the US and the Asia-Pacific region.
Just think of China’s persistent cyber-espionage, its assertive nationalism, its escalating defence build-up, its growing intimidation of Hong Kong and Taiwan, its aggressive build-up of military outposts beyond its border in the South China Sea, and so on.
Many people think Canberra can still finesse the China-US dilemma and sit on the sidelines and enjoy the best of both worlds: unconstrained trade with China under the US security umbrella. But can we keep riding two horses simultaneously – at a time when our most important trade partner has become more assertive and our most important security ally more erratic? Has the time come to choose the US over China in a more unqualified manner? Or should any support for Washington be more conditional and qualified?
Tony Abbott was prime minister (2013-15), a senior minister in the Howard government and federal Liberal MP from 1994 to 2019.
Bob Carr was NSW premier (1995-2005) and a foreign minister in the Gillard and Rudd Labor governments.
Tom Switzer, executive director of the Centre for Independent Studies.