China’s rise is perhaps the single most significant geopolitical question of the next decade – indeed, the next century. The sheer scale of its economy and military, combined with an increasingly authoritarian regime under Xi Jinping, means that the Indo-Pacific lies at the heart of the China challenge. Growing militarisation and Chinese aggression are destabilising the region, whilst Beijing’s willingness to use economic coercion in an attempt to bend governments to its will has highlighted the need for trade diversification.
This paper argues that the now is the time to broaden and deepen the Australia-UK relationship as the post-Brexit UK tilts to the Indo Pacific. It outlines ways to collaborate on defence, intelligence and security and to tackle grey-zone interference, through both working together and with other like-minded partners.
On the economic front, the paper notes that the recently-agreed Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement should herald a new trend towards export diversification to counter China’s trade coercion. Both nations should also collaborate on setting international standards for emerging digital technologies that embed liberal norms, whilst working to deliver on the promises of the G7 B3W framework as a compelling alternative to the Belt and Road in the South Pacific.